Rosslanders quarrel over Aquatic Centre impasse: Calculations over coffee with leaders of the revolt

first_imgA dedicated cadre of Rosslanders are fed up with the lack of cooperation between Rossland and Trail and want the city to find a solution, and fast, but it seems the majority disagrees. The complicated history of the issue means other solutions must be found in the meantime. Whether or not it’s a minority who think Rossland should return to the table to seriously discuss Trail’s proposal was something Kari Kuznecov and other “Rosslanders for Regional Recreation” (RRR) recently set out to discover.  “Yes, I believe Trail is hurting themselves but I also believe this situation is hurting us and our children just as much, or more,” Kuznecov wrote on Nov. 17, 2010, on the RRR Facebook page. The advocates circulated a “letter of intent” that, as of last week, had gathered 300 signatures urging Rossland council to reach an agreement. The desire for a solution—without qualifying what form that solution might take—was raised again in a letter to the editor by Jorge Rivas last week. Kuznecov feels Trail’s offer is reasonable and argues that Rossland should contribute its “fair share.” She wrote, “It is criminal that they are basically discouraging overall health and wellness and lifesaving skills of our children and families. I am extremely disappointed with council on this issue.” Not everyone is convinced.  “I applaud council,” said former mayor Bill Profili. “They tried. They tried under [former mayor] Gord Smith. There’s only so much money. The money Rossland is saving could virtually pay everyone’s additional cost to use it. If it’s a little more to pay for the pool, just pay it. It’s better than hundreds of thousands.” He added that year-round swimming is a luxury people should be willing to pay for, like a ski pass. “Rossland has a summer pool and it’s great for kids to have a nice place to swim for three months of the year: that’s the essential.” Kuznecov countered that the opportunity to swim all year was vital for children’s development as good swimmers. Profili heartily disagreed: “I didn’t send my kids to South America so they could ski all year! Trail is charging a sliding scale, resident and non-resident, that’s their choice. But can council afford to pay? No.” What do the numbers say?  Kuznecov, Genevieve Fortin (another comrade in the revolt) and the Telegraph recently sat down for coffee and some back-of-the-envelope calculations. We considered useage in the eight “winter” months, when summer swimming options aren’t available. We figured about 150 families used to go regularly, before the rate hike, but about 50 families still go, while another 50 now go to Castlegar. Perhaps 50 families now don’t go at all. Other families also go but have Trail property or ID from elsewhere so pay the resident’s rate. For simplicity, we guessed that a “regular” visit consists of one adult and two children. Then we estimated that the “typical family” sends each child to 8 swimming lessons ($71 per child, instead of $39) and the adult who brings the kids pays the drop-in rate ($12 per adult instead of $6). For the group-of-three, that’s a total cost of $238 instead of the resident’s rate of $126. We guessed that each group-of-three goes for 16 additional drop-ins at $5 per child instead of $2.50. That adds up to another $352 instead of $176 for residents. In total, this “typical” family of three would pay $590 each year instead of $302—a difference of $288 dollars. Fifty families times $288 dollars is $14,400 that Trail earns by charging Rosslanders double.  Not only is this a lot less than the $131,000 that Trail demands, but, if our estimate is correct that the double fee dissuades two of every three potential swimmers, the financial loser is Trail. (Kuznecov and Fortin point out that those who choose not to swim due to the high rate lose out athletically.) If Trail charged the regular rate and got all 150 “typical” groups-of-three coming in again, our scenario would have Trail rake in some $15,800 over-and-above what they currently get by charging double and turning off two of every three customers. In either case, these numbers support Profili’s assertion that $131,000 is a far cry from what the aquatic centre is worth to Rossland. In the meantime, as Trail won’t budge on its “demand,” Mayor Granstrom suggests Rosslanders find “creative solutions.” For example, Kuznecov said many families bypass the double-rate because they own rental properties in Trail or have ID from elsewhere. Furthermore, the city implemented a $20,000 subsidy for non-profit societies to help their members offset the additional cost of the facility—the Community Charter forbids the city from directly subsidizing individuals. Some suggest swimmers join the Senior’s Association—apparently you don’t have to be a senior—or get on board with the Rossland Childcare Society. The non-profit would be responsible for reimbursing members who brought receipts from the aquatic centre. Kuznecov was not convinced. “Who in their right mind would want to take that project on?” she asked on the RRR web page last year. “Handling everyone’s money and refunds sounds like a nightmare.” Nevertheless, the option exists. Last year only $12,000 of the subsidy was claimed. If there was enough demand for the program, Granstrom intimated that the subsidy could easily be raised.last_img

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