In a move that would lead to the remaining SEAPARC partners paying slightly more, the CRD has signalled it will consider relieving Port Renfrew from its obligation to contribute to the operation of the recreation complex located in Sooke.
The Sooke and Electoral Area Parks and Recreation Commission, or SEAPARC, is funded through a partnership between Sooke and the western communities in the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area (Port Renfrew, Otter Point, Shirley, Jordan River and East Sooke).
Those funds are generated through property taxes in each municipality and are based on population.
But Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director Mike Hicks said some residents in Port Renfrew point out that they rarely, if ever, use the SEAPARC facility.
“They’re saying the 150-kilometre return trip to the facility means that they just don’t use it and that they shouldn’t be paying to maintain something they don’t use,” Hicks said.
He said prior to taking the suggestion to the CRD board in the form of a motion, he’s requested the District of Sooke and SEAPARC administration examine the situation and provide him with their comments.
“If there’s some reason not to do this, then we could reconsider the concept, but right now it seems like a reasonable move to make,” Hicks said
The dollar amounts would not be an onerous burden on the remaining SEAPARC partners, said Hicks, and would amount to $20,377 in 2020 out of a total $2.1-million budget.
“I’m aware of the suggestion and I guess if I was in Port Renfrew and I knew that my community was not using SEAPARC I might ask why that’s on my taxes, too,” said Al Beddows, a Sooke councillor and SEAPARC chair.
“We’ll be looking for specific information from SEAPARC about the level of use. We really haven’t had a chance to look at it just yet.”
Beddows added he’ll be reviewing the issue at the SEAPARC Board meeting on Thursday. Sooke council will have a chance to discuss the matter at a committee-of-the-whole meeting on Sept. 17.
“I want to stress that this is just a matter of fairness,” Hicks said.
“The Juan de Fuca Electoral Area contributed $300,00 to the turf soccer field in Sooke because we (the entire electoral area) are using it. That’s fair. In the same way, if a community isn’t using a facility, they shouldn’t have to pay for it.”
Beddows agreed preliminary information he’s received from SEAPARC manager Steve Knoke bears out the contention that Port Renfrew residents are a small fraction of the facility’s clients.
“Currently, SEAPARC does not track residency for public access to our facilities,” Knoke said.
“We did, however, review our membership profile by postal code and we have found that in the last four years Port Renfrew residents have extremely limited use of SEAPARC programs and membership activities.”
Hicks said following discussion with SEAPARC and the District of Sooke, he will most likely consider putting the motion to remove Port Renfrew from the funding partnership.