Metchosin challenges West Shore rec centre budget

Metchosin is refusing to pass the West Shore parks and recreation’s budget until staff provide more detail on how money will be spent.

During a presentation to Metchosin council last week, Mayor John Ranns had tough questions for the rec centre’s financial officers.

Shaun Wysiecki, chair of the society’s finance committee and Sue Dickson, the rec center manager of finance, are presenting the 2012 budget to all West Shore municipalities, including Metchosin.

West Shore recreation is requesting a 5.5 per cent or $244,000 increase from the five West Shore owner municipalities to help fund repairs, maintenance and wage increases.

Requisitions from the owners provides about 48 per cent of the revenues for the West Shore rec centre. Metchosin’s portion is $423,000 this year, a $12,800 hike.

During the presentation, Dickson explained the how Bear Mountain arena has seen a sharp drop in attendance to commercial events, including Victoria Grizzlies hockey and Shamrocks lacrosse.

Two Armageddon Fighting Championship mixed martial arts fights at Bear Mountain, normally sell-out events, had the lowest attendance yet, Dickson said.

Ranns pointed out Bear Mountain arena lost about $446,000 last year.

“Nearly half a million dollars is a big bite in revenue,” Ranns explained, noting that the loss is more money than Metchosin even contributes to the rec centre in a year.

Commercial events held at Bear Mountain arena and other venues at the rec centre help subsidize community programs, such as aquatics, soccer and hockey.

“Minor hockey is not a money making business,” Dickson said.

Ranns asked for a detailed breakdown of how commercial events subsidize community programs.

Another key issue for the mayor is the Juan de Fuca par 3 golf course losing $23,000 last year.

In the early 1990s Ranns was on the recreation committee at WSPR and voted to bring in the golf course. “It was supposed to make a healthy profit,” Ranns said.

Ranns noted Metchosin has two golf courses that compete with the Juan de Fuca course. Property taxes from both the Metchosin Golf and Country Club, and Green Acres par 3 and driving range, are used to pay Metchosin’s share of the rec centre budget, he said.

If the WSPR golf course is losing money, Ranns would like to see the land used for more playing fields.

Ranns does acknowledge there may just be nuggets of information missing from the budget, and said if the rec centre can show how these amenities are generating revenue, and not showing losses, council will gladly approve the budget.

“Perhaps the grass cutting equipment is being charged to the golf course, but is used on all of the fields,” Ranns suggested.

Dickson and Wysiecki noted that recreation centres across the region are weathering a tough economy and are seeing fewer users and less revenue.

West Shore rec took a hit last year when some hockey programs shifted to Westhills arena in Langford and when full-day kindergarten cut into daycare programs.

“Our rec centre has had the least revenue decrease out of all the rec centres in (Greater Victoria),” Dickson said. “We did make money, but we didn’t make as much as we had hoped.”

Ranns also told Dickson and Wysiecki that Metchosin shouldn’t be charged for the upkeep and maintenance for the weightroom expansion and new fitness studio.

Metchosin and Highlands objected to and opted out of that project.

“We (Metchosin) are always going to be branded as the obstacle, but we don’t want to be,” Ranns observed. “It’s the only way we can get information.”


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