Oncoming terrain for West Shore recreational facilities appears a tad rocky, but owners and organizers are doing all they can to keep the doors open for residents.
The West Shore Parks and Recreation Society (WSPRS) was recently approved for a portion of the owner municipality (Langford, Colwood, View Royal, Metchosin, Highlands) COVID-19 provincial restart funds. These funds were used to re-open the Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre pool as of Jan. 20, said Grant Brown, Chief Administrative Officer for the WSPRS.
Times are tough, as rec facilities can only offer so much service to fewer residents, due to COVID-19 restrictions. Brown noted that services such as events and food offerings remain severely reduced throughout the pandemic.
“Staff continue to produce a modest number of frozen meals that are sold through our golf course pro shop,” Brown said in a statement to the Gazette. “The other hard-hit area is our low-cost programming that is usually subsidized by our more profitable programs. Currently, we are seeking funding from our owners from their COVID-19 restart funds to reinstate these for the summer.”
The 2021 West Shore Parks and Recreation budget requested a total of $5,268,635 and has been approved by four of five partner municipalities, including View Royal, Langford, Highlands, and Metchosin. Colwood has yet to review the budget submission, but Brown said the budget has been authorized regardless, as the operating agreement includes that approval is reached when 75 per cent of the requisition is approved. Four of five approvals meets this threshold.
The request saw a rise of $197,596, or 3.9 per cent, over the approved 2020 budget requisition, due to operational challenges created by the pandemic. The 2021 requisition approval means rec facilities should be sitting in a safe spot for the year.
“We submitted a very conservative budget, taking the restrictions through the summer and only a very slight lessening for the fall,” stated Brown. “Due to that, we are comfortable with our current status, however, it will once again be a very challenging year with potentially some very difficult decisions to be made if the current restrictions remain long term.”
Moving forward, Brown hopes to see a gradual ease in restrictions around recreation for youth and adult sports programming, and that facilities will be able to operate under the previous provincial guidelines that were used last summer and fall.
“West Shore Parks and Recreation facilities are a valuable amenity for the West Shore. Offering a variety of recreational and leisure activities as well as life skills for all ages,” Brown said. “Our owners recognize this and have been supportive through these challenging times. The parks and recreation field is adjusting how we operate, scaling back to ensure we can remain operational.”