Rossland – Pay to play

Rossland surveys citizens on cost of access to Trail’s aquatic centre

If you want to play in Trail you have to pay.

In Rossland, the question of who pays what for the Trail Aquatic and Leisure Centre, how much, and in what form will come out in the wash after a month-long plebiscite question begins Friday.

The City of Rossland is asking its residents for their view on the city making financial contributions through property taxation for the use of the aquatic centre.

The issue has been a long standing and sorely debated one since regional recreation was dissolved in 2008 after decades of squabbling among the partners, with Trail finally imposing additional financial implications on non residents like Rosslanders after the city refused to include a pay-to-play requirement in their property taxes.

Currently, Rosslanders pay a non Trail Resident Program fee, double what residents holding a valid card would shell out for daily, monthly or annual usage fees.

Although the plebiscite question is non-binding — using a simple for or against format — Rossland Mayor Greg Granstrom said the outcome will frame city’s council conscience in how to move forward.

“The aquatic centre is a very costly facility to run, we are very aware of that,” he said. “And we’re also aware we have some major infrastructure work going on in the downtown right now … so every dollar we have is precious. We don’t have the nicety of a large industrial tax base.”

In October, 2011, Trail requested Rossland pay $1 million over five years towards funding the aquatic centre and Haley Park, while Rossland countered with an offer of $35,000 the first year, and an adjusted rate based on usage after that.

That offer is no longer on the table, said Granstrom, nor has Rossland council been able to come up with a number they would find palatable.

“That (figure) is somewhat outside of the plebiscite question at this time because we haven’t had a delegation to council,” he said. “But if there’s not a number the citizens can afford, we won’t come to a negotiation.”

Under the notes of the plebiscite, if the City of Rossland were to agree to pay the City of Trail $100,000 per year on behalf of the Rossland residents for use of the aquatic centre, a typical tax impact on a $300,000 assessed home would be $55 per year. That would increase to $82.50 for the same home if Rossland negotiated a higher figure of $150,000.

In 2010, the City of Trail was looking for an average of $188,000 annually over five years from Rosslanders to access the facilities. That was almost as much as the city’s residents paid in taxes to maintain their own recreation facilities and programs.

However, the City of Trail owns the facility and a final figure is ultimately up to them, Granstrom admitted.

If an agreement was ultimately reached, the deal would mean Rosslanders would be able to access Trail’s programs and facilities without paying a surcharge.

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