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Sicamous council to address frustrations around CSRD-owned recreation centre

Eagles, minor hockey, various community programs struggle to secure availability at arena
The Sicamous and District Recreation Centre’s service agreement will be looked at by council and the CSRD to find solutions for scheduling difficulties faced by user groups. (File photo)

Frustrations felt over the availability and management of the Sicamous and District Recreation Centre are being brought to the table.

At the July 26 committee of the whole meeting, Sicamous council broached the subject that has been a point of contention for the district and local users of the community facility that is owned and operated by the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD).

Mayor Colleen Anderson said she has a meeting planned for the first week in August with the CSRD to discuss scheduling issues groups are facing and the handling of day-to-day operations of the facility.

From the early 1980s, the arena was run by the non-profit Sicamous and District Recreation Centre Society. In 2021, the CSRD awarded Ontario-based company Nustadia Recreation the contract to manage the facility. As of June 1, 2022, the CSRD was overseeing the facility’s management and operations.

“We need a new service agreement,” said Coun. Gord Bushell. “When the hockey team in town can’t book a time to play a game, it’s time to look at the agreement. It’s not servicing our community, and if we’re paying $380,000 a year for it, why are we paying for it?”

Bushell said he’s heard from many frustrated users trying to book everything from KIJHL hockey games to space for seniors to use the gym.

“The rec centre is here to serve Sicamous,” added Coun. Siobhan Rich. “Sicamous kids, seniors and people just even wanting to use the cafeteria should have first dibs.”

She noted the Eagles’ new classification as a Junior A hockey team and Sicamous Minor Hockey’s recent win of the OMAHA Association of the Year Award, saying it shouldn’t be this hard for Sicamous to support its players.

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Anderson stressed the rec centre doesn’t solely belong to Sicamous, as Electoral Area E has an almost equal claim to the facility.

Chief administrative officer Kelly Bennett shared financial details, explaining the centre gets about $180,000 a year from user groups to offset the $900,000 to $1 million cost to run the facility each year, of which the district pays about 60 per cent and Area E pays 40 per cent. She said the municipality and the district get a say on how the rec centre is run.

Bennett noted the facility isn’t in a deficit, which would cost taxpayers, and any new agreement should reflect that.

“Area E kids and seniors are our kids and seniors too, our minor hockey and Eagles players live there, people coming to games come from there, it’s our community too,” emphasized Rich.

Information will be collected and the service establishment bylaw with the CSRD and Area E will be on the next council meeting’s agenda.

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Rebecca Willson

About the Author: Rebecca Willson

I took my first step into the journalism industry in November 2022 when I moved to Salmon Arm to work for the Observer and Eagle Valley News. I graduated with a journalism degree in December 2021 from MacEwan University in Edmonton.
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