HUB OF LEARNING 2: Request to waive facility rental fee for Selkirk College presents conundrum for City

Arlen MacLaine
By Arlen MacLaine
November 14th, 2013

A request by Selkirk College to waive the rental fee for use of the Arena lounge in order to facilitate courses here in Rossland sparked discussion amongst council during their regular meeting on Tuesday. The discussion focused on weighing the benefits of having future educational opportunities available in Rossland without providing a ‘free lunch’, as it were.

Selkirk College has approached the City’s Recreation Department to discuss program delivery in Rossland.  The courses will either be housed in RSS, or the Arena Lounge.  There is no facility fee associated with the courses that will be housed by RSS, but because there is no access to RSS during the weekend, some of the courses will have to be housed in another City building, and the Arena Lounge is the best fit.

The request for decision, written by Robin Hethey of the Recreation Department, reads, “Selkirk College will be advertising our “partnership in community education” in their Winter Brochure and we will be listing Selkirk Colleges’ Rossland courses in our Winter Brochure. The development of this partnership is within the current focus of the Sustainability Commission’s interest to promote lifelong learning in Rossland, including Adult, College and University level education.”

Councillor Tim Thatcher said, “I think its great if we can bring educational opportunities to the city, and this will make it just that much more attainable, without raising the prices of the courses.”

Councillor Jill Spearn said, “It’s interesting that we have the task force from the Sustainability Commission working on trying to bring in some other educational partners so that we can start a hub of learning in Rossland, and this seems to fit into that whole scheme, but on a separate track.  I’d like to see the conversation around further learning to kind of come together in one purview as in the Sustainability Commission.”

Councillor Kathy Moore liked the idea of the educational partnership, but was concerned about how the cost would be made up. “I’m curious about making our facilities pay for themselves, which is one of the things we’ve been trying to move toward,” she said.  “I’m not sure what the benefit is to us in the long term.  We’ll have janitorial and staff expense one way or the other.”

Deputy CAO Tracey Butler said, “The public works involvement, the cleaning and custodial duties, is what the 700 dollar [rental fee] is for, but there is always a loss when we run a recreational program.  The conundrum is that when Selkirk offers courses in Trail and Castlegar, they own buildings in those communities, so they don’t have to add that rental cost to their programs.  So a class will cost less in Trail, than in Rossland, if we don’t waive those fees.”

Mayor Greg Granstrom added, “It’s quite interesting too, if they run a program in their facility in Trail, that’s subsidized by the City of Rossland.”

“This is definitely an offering that adds substance to what Rossland can offer, and ultimately that could be worth more than the 700 dollar rental fee,” said Councillor Jody Blomme. “The fact that we are competing with the other Selkirk College locations, for us to compete, I believe that we do have to offer this situation, at least to get it started.  As for comparing it to what the SC is offering, that hasn’t started up yet, but with Selkirk, they are well established, and well marketed.  For us to be an extra satellite, I think there is a lot of value to that, and I think it will ultimately bring in more money and more value in the grand scheme of things.”

The motion to waive the rental fee was passed unanimously, and it would be communicated to Selkirk that further discussion involving facility fees would be needed in the future.

Categories: EducationGeneral

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