Trail Council throws swim club a financial lifeline

The Greater Trail Stingrays team will live to swim another day after Trail council waived the club's $5,760 debt Monday afternoon.

The Greater Trail Stingrays team will live to swim another day after Trail council waived the club’s $5,760 debt Monday afternoon.

When club president Billy Merry spoke to council members during the governance meeting, he outlined the Stingrays’ financial challenges following a team split and drop in membership as well as the costly sport pass fees for 17 Rossland swimmers.

Merry wasn’t sure what to expect from Trail, but he came prepared to defend the value the decades-run club offers the area’s youth, with a bid to keep kids swimming in the city’s indoor pool.

He added that a recent Trail Times article on the club’s plight (“Swim club struggling to stay afloat,” on Oct. 24) generated an out-pouring of support.

“I am very appreciative of Trail’s investment in us,” Merry told the Trail Times Tuesday morning. “It showed me that they believe in us and I gained a lot of strength from that. Having the values of the council in my favour is great news, so I see success in our team’s future.”

Trail council agreed to provide the Stingrays with the grant on the condition that the club seek potential reimbursement from the City of Rossland for that amount in the next fiscal year.

Following Merry’s appearance, the governance committee moved onto another Trail Residency Program (TRP) matter.  This one was from the Rossland-Trail roller derby team requesting TRP exemption, or a halving of TRP fees, for its Golden City members.

In this case, Rossland ladies each have to pay a $131 sport pass fee to practise in the Trail Memorial Centre gym alongside fellow team members from Trail and beyond.

“This theme coming from Rossland is, they have a policy that they don’t provide reimbursement for adults,” explained David Perehudoff, the city’s administration officer. “Which again gets to the issue of tax subsidies for the city (Trail) to help pay the considerable monies to run the facilities.”

City council deferred that decision until next year following a lengthy discussion and impassioned plea from Coun. Gord DeRosa.

“I know I am heading out the door,” said the 27-year Trail official during his last day attending council.

“But I would like to leave the message that somebody had better do something,” said DeRosa, with his voice wavering. “Because we’ve lost figure skating that was 220 strong, curling is challenged, the racquetball club is no more, and our basketball league doesn’t bounce balls in the Cominco Gym anymore.”

Coun. Robert Cacchioni agreed, but conceded that if people don’t recognize the value of these particular facilities and won’t contribute capital for at least the operating costs, then Trail ends up paying for everything.

“I don’t care if they are not paying their damn share. In my mind our facilities are the best in the world and they are empty. I have a problem with that,” DeRosa said.

There was one last grant-in-aid memo, this one from Craig Clare, assistant coach of the Trail Smoke Eaters Hockey Club. Clare noted the team’s lack of a proper training/recovery facility and asked council for TRP exemptions on a three-month gym pass for players who may be living or billeted in Rossland or the Beaver Valley. That request carried unanimously and provides that the city be recognized for the financial contribution.

Trail council agreed to send another invitation to surrounding communities to meet at the table and begin new dialogue not just about the cost, but the value of recreation to the entire region.

“I would like the people to know that it has not been for lack of trying from our current and past councils or administration,” maintained Coun. Eleanor Gattafoni Robinson.

“These situations are sad there’s no denying that, but the question is where to begin and where does it end.”

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