Although there is controversy around Karl Donoghue’s abrupt departure from his helm at the Similkameen Recreation Centre, those that have worked with the longtime facilities manager had nothing but accolades for the man that’s been a part of recreation in the area for almost three decades.
Marnie Todd, who sat as a director on the commission for the past 17 years said the area wouldn’t have the facilities it has without Donoghue’s diligence and hard work. Todd resigned in mid-March after it was decided during a meeting, she could not attend, Donoghue would receive notice of one-year employment and then termination.
“He’s run this pool and rec centre, ice rink, on no budget,” she said. “We wouldn’t have that decrepit old pool running if it wasn’t for Karl out there jackhammering the cement himself. People here don’t know how lucky we are to have had him all these all years.”
Donoghue resigned effective immediately on Monday after receiving a letter from the Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen stating he was could work for another year and then he was terminated – effectively forcing him into retirement.
Four members of the Similkameen Recreation Commission, which Donoghue was the secretary of, have resigned in the last six weeks.
“There wouldn’t be many people in this town under the age of 35 that didn’t have their skates tied or goggles fixed by him,” Todd said.
Donoghue was not only in charge of maintaining the facilities including the ice rink, pool, workout room, racket ball court, rock wall and bowling alley, but he also worked to facilitate programming for the rec centre.
Each year he canvassed businesses in the community to donate to ensure free skates were available during the Christmas break, he also worked to ensure public swims were accessible. A learn how to play racket ball program was started this year. He helped co-ordinate the bowling leagues and a variety of other events throughout the year.
“No one is going to have the knowledge that Karl did,” Charlene Cowling said, noting the requirements now needed to operate ice rinks since the deaths in Fernie last year.
“He was making sure we were over the standards. You wouldn’t believe the standards that are in place,” she said.
Cowling said Donoghue was often tied up by budget constraints on how much could be offered, but worked hard to maximize recreation opportunities.
“I know that right now he’s probably worried about the pool opening this year and that he’s let this community down. But he hasn’t. He’s a good man that always tried hard on a tight budget to provide recreation opportunities for everyone,” she said. “He’s going to be missed.”
Donoghue is an avid swimmer and has broken more than 100 swimming records in his career.
The Review reached out to Donoghue about his resignation but had not heard from him by the time of this posting.