Hoping to make progress on plans to upgrade the Stettler Recreation Centre this fall, the town is lobbying the County of Stettler for more funding.
“While 50 per cent of the SRC is used by county residents, there is no inherent cost to keep the facility operating,” Mayor Dick Richards said during a town council meeting late last month.
Upgrades were discussed as part of the town’s strategic plan update.
This spring, the county contributed $140.000 as part of a grant of $250,000 from the new federal Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund (CIIP) to upgrade the library and expand the parking lot.
Although the county hasn’t responded to further funding requests to continue the second phase of the SRC upgrade, town council wants to discuss the issue with the county.
“I hope they can come back to us as equal partners,” Richards said. “We do so many good things together. What’s fair is to pay their fair share.”
While county council agrees that costs be shared, the reeve said it wants to wait for an independent report about the county’s contributions to recreation before making any decisions.
“The bottom line is we want to be fair,” Reeve Wayne Nixon told the Independent.
While county residents frequently use the SRC facilities, he said funding for such facilities is not high priority for taxpayers.
“As much as recreation is important, it is far less important to county taxpayers than roads, bridges and gravel,” Nixon said.
While he supports a user-pay system to support recreation, the reeve said he and council are also committed to other facilities used by county residents, and that they’re financially feasible and supported, such as countless community halls, arenas, sports fields, and seniors centres in Big Valley, Erskine, Donalda, Byemoor, Endiang, Botha, Gadsby and Red Willow.
Town and county councils plan to further discuss the issue at an upcoming joint meeting.
County council also suggested that funding from the sale of the current Stettler and District Seniors’ Drop-in Centre downtown could be allocated to the SRC.
Coun. Leona Thorogood, however, suggested that the seniors’ facility could be designated as a centre for non-profit groups, as listed in the town’s strategic planning.