What will it take for the Stettler Recreation Centre and other recreation facilities in the Town of Stettler to be fairly funded by all user municipalities?
For years, and perhaps decades, the town has been wrestling with this issue?
Now with municipal elections on the horizon, this seems like an opportune time to open up the issue to voters, because it seems that the town and county are somewhat at a stalemate.
However, both sides are willing to come to the table.
With many new faces on council after the elections in October, the new councils will likely make the most progress.
Across the province, this is a common issue where it seems the larger municipalities with the major recreation facilities that are used more by people from outside the community.
Yet the towns foot the whole bill to operate these facilities.
Both the taxpayers and councils in the towns say it’s simply a bad deal. Most local politicians likely agree that major recreation facilities in Stettler are regional facilities.
Yet, why does the town have to pay the whole shot to keep them operating.
I know one concept that works effectively in another province.
Back in my home province of British Columbia, recreation facilities in rural areas are fully funded and operated under a form of government known as a regional district that provides and funds services for the region.
As such, recreational facilities are equitably supported and funded by all taxpayers in the area of the facility.
It has worked wonderfully and effectively for decades in B.C,, so surely that type of concept can work here in Stettler and elsewhere in Alberta.
While both Stettler councils have taken steps to find a solution, with the county initiating a study and the town welcoming the county to get an independent study.
After new councils are elected, this will likely become the major item on the agenda.
Town Mayor Dick Richards told his colleagues at a council meeting this month that in speaking to other people about the issue, rural residents were unaware that the town pays virtually the full operations.
With that knowledge, many of those residents, and more, might be willing to pay for the regional facilities.
At the same time, the county also faces the challenge of providing funds to other recreational facilities and community halls in villages and hamlets.
Several years ago, a county councillor suggested that the county support fewer facilities, particularly those that are seldom used and within a few kilometres.
Other councillors suggest higher fees for residents outside the municipality, or taxpayers can check a box in their property tax form to indicate what recreation facilities they want their taxes to support.
Let’s open the discussion to all taxpayers in the region and find a solution that is fair and equitable to all.
— Froese’n Time