After reading the two sets of opposing information concerning the proposed Area “G” Community Parks Services Bylaw, I was thoroughly confused. According to the RDOS, it is for the purpose of providing funding for the maintenance of local parks. An earlier version of the bylaw, which was passed by the RDOS in 2007, was never approved by the provincial government because it did not stipulate a taxation amount. The lack of provincial approval apparently was not noticed by anyone. The currently proposed bylaw would raise up to a maximum of $10,000 per year. Not wanting to support a measure that might result in an unnecessary increase in taxes, I conducted my own (mini) investigation.
I learned that the RDOS has been paying for parks maintenance from other sources. The RDOS is now seeking approval of the proposed bylaw because “while it is not unusual for parks projects to be initiated through a grant, ongoing maintenance and improvements require a service establishment bylaw to be able to devote long term funding to any function.”
According to Christy Malden in the RDOS office, the five year contract with the Hedley Community Recreation Commission Association will expire on August 31, 2015. If there is no bylaw in place, the local group will need to accept responsibility for liability insurance and also maintenance after that time.
I had heard that because of its blanket insurance for many parks, the RDOS is able to acquire liability insurance for considerably less than what the Hedley organization would pay. This would also apply to community parks elsewhere in Area “G”.
I spoke with the Valley First commercial insurance representative. He subsequently requested quotes for Hedley’s Woodlie Park from several insurance providers. The first two declined to quote because it is predominantly a children’s park. This may suggest that any company willing to provide insurance will demand a high premium.
If the bylaw is not passed we would need to decide whether we are prepared to pay more than currently through the RDOS, to have liability insurance and also to maintain the park ourselves. Of the 8 electoral areas in the RDOS, Area “G” is the only one without a Community Parks Service Establishment Bylaw.
According to Christy Malden, if a sufficient number of people sign the form objecting to the bylaw, the Area Director can decide to go to referendum with the matter, or abandon the attempt to have it accepted.
Cost of a referendum would be $1,000 -$2,000, if included in the fall civic election. A stand alone referendum would cost about $4,000-8,000.
As in most money decisions, wisdom will be required as we ponder the most prudent course concerning this matter.