Rocky View County’s (RVC) recreation boards will be dissolved as the County pivots to a new governance model it says will streamline and enhance the way services and programs are provided to residents.
“Recreation consistently ranks as one of the top four priorities for Rocky Viewers,” Reeve Greg Boehlke said. “The County’s population is growing, getting younger and becoming more active. It’s time for a completely new approach."
Council adopted the new model – one of two presented - at a regular meeting July 23.
“Now is the time for RVC to develop a new way forward for how we manage recreation in our communities – one that is focused on service delivery and is managed in a more sustainable way,” said Theresa Cochran, manager of Recreation, Parks and Community Support.
Under the new model, a committee comprised of council will be formed to replace the existing nine recreation boards.
“This will allow all councillors to have improved first-hand knowledge of county-wide recreation needs,” Cochran said.
These needs will be brought forward, she said, through recreation co-ordinators – who will serve as “boots on the ground” to work with community groups – or through presentations by the community.
The committee will also provide opportunities for public participation, according to administration, with the ability to request feedback or establish sub-committees with public membership.
The new model will include a rewrite of RVC’s Community Recreation Grant Policy, which will now see administration review applications for compliance with the new policy. The committee will then assess the applications and either vote to allocate funding, seek more information from the applicants or deny the request.
Administration will also create a list of preapproved recreation providers which would receive an annual contribution from the County, as well as a preapproved list of providers that would be able to access multi-year grants.
The County’s recreation boards were established between 1972 and 1981, according to Cochran, to allow for public input into what resources are provided to groups, programs and facilities offered to residents.
“The model for recreation has morphed over the last 40 years to our current state of nine boards…that continue to support community service levels and advise on their recreation matters, including grants,” she said.
While that model has worked in the past, Cochran said the municipality has changed significantly, with population growth and heightened expectations increasing the demand for recreation. Further, she added, a changing demographic, aging facilities and a limited tax base prompted the need for a change in recreation governance.
“Our current board structure is dated and not sustainable,” she said. “We have problems with volunteer turnover, a lot of demand and multiple differing board bylaws.”
The current model does not allow for long-term planning, Cochran said, or for funding to be based on County-wide priorities. According to administration’s report, “Many requested amenities are beyond what can be sustained by the current or anticipated tax base” and “the granting process is outdated, complicated and difficult to communicate to partners.”
The proposed model was widely lauded by council.
“I’m really excited to see [this model] in the report, because what I see in [this model] is all of council now really gets to learn about every specific recreation facility,” Coun. Jerry Gautreau said.
Coun. Kim McKylor added she had received a call from a member of the Rocky View West recreation board, who indicated her support of the change.
Council voted 8-1 to approve the new model, with only Coun. Samanntha Wright opposed. Wright said she would have preferred to see the two models circulated to members of the recreation boards in order to solicit their feedback before a decision was made.
With the new model approved, Cochran outlined the steps to manage the transition, which will include informing current board members of the change, rescinding the existing board bylaws and developing a new board Terms of Reference (TOR) and bylaw, drafting a new recreation grant policy and, finally, implementing the new granting process to community members.
The transition should be complete by the end of the year, she added.