District drops recreation co-ordinator

Mayor assured council still committed to provision of recreation.

Sicamous Mayor Terry Rysz says recreation programming remains a priority of council after the district’s program and events co-ordinator sent out an email announcing her termination.

On Friday morning, the News received an email (as did other “undisclosed recipients”) from Jillian Alexander, the District of Sicamous’ program and events manager, announcing her job, which began last May, will end in March.

“It is with a heavy heart I write you this morning. Wednesday night at the in-camera meeting, council and mayor decided to eliminate my position with the District, effective March 1st,” states Alexander. “Despite being advised otherwise, they decided the district couldn’t afford to have the position.”

Asked if this message, sent through Alexander’s District of Sicamous email account, was pre-approved by municipal council and/or the district, Rysz had no comment. He did respond to the matter with the following statement:

“While deliberating the 2015 budget, we have decided to restructure our recreational programming by reallocating funds previously used for management wages to other activities within the community. Recreation is a priority to council and there are still funds allocated to this within the budget,” said Rysz.

In her email, Alexander notes she’ll be tying up loose ends to ensure current programs will continue until their scheduled end dates, adding “there is currently no plan for the future of programs and events with the district.”

On Wednesday (Jan. 28), during the committee of the whole meeting, council received a presentation by Jane Mastin of True Engineering, who was asked by staff to provide an overview of the Sicamous and Area Parks, Recreation and Open Space plan, completed in March 2011 and essentially shelved since.

Upon its release, the plan was controversial for its recommendation that management of the Sicamous and District Recreation Centre be reviewed, with the goal of “examining the capacity for a broader programming role by funded staff persons.”

The document also notes how some recreation programming was being co-ordinated through volunteer efforts, resulting in “volunteer burnout.” It suggests “alternative service delivery models should also be examined in an attempt to maximize the use of staff resources and potentially create new staff capacity for co-ordination of recreation programs.”

Asked if there was a correlation between Mastin’s presentation and council’s decision to let Alexander go, Rysz replied, “no comment.”