At the Aug. 5 Parks and Recreation meeting, mayor and council reviewed the Cowichan Lake Recreation Commission’s winter/spring program statistics.
In February of this year, Cowichan Lake Recreation had a shift in recreation programmers, welcoming Kyler Nurmsoo. Because of this, the statistics report states that “it is likely that there may be some errors in the reporting of 2013 statistics.”
At the meeting, Coun. McGonigle said that the report was a start.
“I don’t think it was quite the report we were looking for in terms of numbers. I think we were looking for solid user numbers,” says McGonigle. “You can see that some (programs) of them are doing a little bit better than others.”
“At first I got a little bit discouraged about the success rate of the programs in Lake Cowichan,” says Coun. Bob Day. “But if you notice, sometimes they offer a hundred and some odd programs and not all of them get off the ground so they probably have as good a success rate as any (recreation facility) on the island.”
He added that perhaps the Cowichan Lake Recreation Commission needs to undertake a consultation process to find out what kinds of programs would work best in the Cowichan Lake area.
“Rather than just using the same people all the time, and doing the same thing, because that’s what they’ve always done,” says Day. “It might be an item to discuss with the programmer.”
Mayor Forrest added that at the last Recreation Commission meeting he asked Nurmsoo to attend a town meeting to explain some of the numbers, and was told that this would probably be possible at the next Parks and Recreation meeting in September.
At this point in time Cowichan Lake Recreation is in the midst of planning its October to December calendar. In response to mayor and council’s concerns Nurmsoo did say that Cowichan Lake Recreation has seen a rise in attendance numbers to programs offered and in the numbers of programs themselves.
“I certainly don’t want to take all the credit for that because it’s been building since before I came,” says Nurmsoo. “But the fact that we’ve restructured how our programming here is operating and streamlined it a bit better (means) we’re seeing some success as a result of that.”
There are not a lot of new programs being offered in this October to December calendar, but Nurmsoo says that they are always open to new instructors and ideas from the public.
“When I’m looking to create a new program, I’m looking at two things. So I’m looking at the demand that we see in the community and I’m also looking at the instructor availability,” says Nurmsoo. “Obviously with us it’s a little bit harder to get instructors for programs.”
He explains that instructors from out of the area have to charge a bit more because of their travel time.
“So knowing that there’s people in the community that want to take part in those programs is really important for us.”
He says that it’s not only instructors he wants to hear from, but the public as well about the kinds of programs they would like to see at the Recreation Centre.
“Because we don’t get that as much. We have individuals that come forward and say they can do something, but we don’t get as many people that come in and say ‘I’d love to see this program’.”
In the report presented to mayor and council, there is a noticeable discrepancy for both 2013 and 2014 between total revenue ($42,057 and $45,790 respectively) and total expenditures ($62,555 and $69,441).
To address this discrepancy, Linda Blatchford, the division manager, says that people have to remember that in 2014 the Recreation Centre is operating with an overall budget of $2.47 million, with $2.2 million of that coming from the Town of Lake Cowichan and Areas F and I.
“The difference between $2.2 million and $2.47 million is the user fees,” says Blatchford, adding that last year Cowichan Lake Recreation actually ended up with a surplus of $74,000. These fees are generated through ice and hall rental or through the attendance of programs.
She adds that part of the discrepancy comes from the number of free programs offered.
“Our commission is very generous with the number of free events and programs that we give to the whole Cowichan Lake area every year, where there’s cost incurred, but there’s no revenue coming back,” says Blatchford.
Events such as the recent Youbou Regatta, the Canada Day celebration at Mesachie Lake, the annual Halloween haunted house, and programs such as the free Monday afternoon skate at the arena.
“What it does is that it removes the financial barriers for kids and adults that otherwise wouldn’t be able to take part in recreation because they can’t (afford it),” says Blatchford.