A plan to have an in-person meeting with the Salmon Arm Elks Recreation Society to discuss issues with Elks Park was brought up recently by Salmon Arm council.
Discussion of a meeting was sparked by a Nov. 20 email to council from resident Sian Lawson.
Lawson referred to reading about a budget request from the Elks society for financial help with city sewer charges, which the society called unfair because they’re based on amount of water consumed. It said it uses a lot of water keeping the ball diamonds at the Elks Park on 30th Street NE irrigated as well as the park. Secondly, it would like the city’s help providing and delivering asphalt chips to keep the dust down.
Lawson wrote about things that occurred over the 2022 ball season that were described as “highly disappointing.”
The list follows.
1. Our kids were not allowed to use the washrooms at Elks Park, we had two gross outhouses that we were only allowed to use.
2. They had locks on the water taps behind the dugout so no one could use the water. If kids ran out of water, they had to bring from home, they could not fill up their water bottles.
3. We were not allowed to use the parking lot. We had to park in the field area where kids were running around playing. It was not safe.
4. Siblings were not allowed to play on the park, even when the campsite was not full, little children were kicked off the playground. This resulted in the kids having to play in the forest and parking area.
5. When we showed up in the spring, the fields were very unkept. About 60 people spent 8 hours weeding the infields.
I used to play baseball at Elks as a child and I am very disappointed in what has happened there, the email concluded.
At the Nov. 28 council meeting, Mayor Alan Harrison noted council spoke to the representative of the Elks at the Nov. 14 budget input meeting about such concerns. City staff said the resident’s email could be forwarded to the Elks.
Coun. Kevin Flynn said along with forwarding the email, a letter from the mayor expressing council’s concerns should accompany it.
“I think this has been going on for a couple of years… Your children, my children played there, ball. It was early in our time in Salmon Arm and it was a wonderful introduction to the community and a wonderful spot to go. It sounds like it might not be that wonderful anymore and we rely on this, our ball teams rely on it. So I think we need to work on this relationship and I think something coming from you might help with that. Because you are very good at working on relationships,” Flynn said.
Harrison agreed that an accompanying letter would be appropriate.
He said when council considered permissive tax exemptions this past year, many groups were granted three years. Council at that time granted the Elks an exemption for only one year, 2023.
“I think partially the reason council chose to do this was for this concern. Further, when the budget presentation was made, I did mention to council and to the presenter, that while they were requesting several things from the city, from my own personal point of view, and I wasn’t speaking for council, we would want some commitment from the Elks. I suggested 10 years of public use of the baseball diamonds there, if I was to consider the requests that they had made.
“I think the Elks have been fantastic community partners and we’ve worked very close with them in the past. But this kind of problem…, it is concerning to me. So yes, I’d be happy to write a letter…”
Harrison said the letter would note that in order to increase cash flow, the Elks have expanded their use of camping there.
“Which is a good thing in lots of ways. But it has eliminated one of the baseball fields. I think our collective worry is that that expansion would take over the ball fields. That would put down a different position as a volunteer group as far as permissive tax exemption goes, from my point of view.”
Council Tim Lavery suggested that a frank, open discussion would be better than another letter. Harrison agreed to include a request for a face-to-face meeting in the letter.
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