A group representing sports organizations in Nelson wants off the bench.
The Nelson Regional Sports Council has called for a seat at Recreation Commission No. 5, which makes local operations and funding decisions for Nelson facilities owned by the city and the Regional District of Central Kootenays.
The commission includes three Nelson city councillors and RDCK directors for Areas E and F that surround Nelson. But David McCulloch, co-chair of the sports council, says the commission should include representation by user groups.
“It’s always elected officials who are making policy, but it’s the user groups who are using the facility who are leading the charge for sport,” said McCulloch.
The sports council previously managed the Civic Centre, but essentially folded in 2016 after it ended its agreement with the city to run the arena.
The latest iteration of the council held a public meeting April 11 that included feedback from 18 local user groups.
McCulloch, who is on the Kootenay Swim Club board of directors, said the message was that the people who run sports in Nelson want a voice at the Recreation Commission.
“Every single one of them said the same thing,” said McCulloch. “We need it to be affordable, we need to be heard when we’re bringing concerns. We need to be able to access the facilities, not because it’s a program that the regional district is promoting, but because it’s a program they’re not promoting and we manage on behalf of a provincial or national governing body.”
McCulloch envisions the council’s representative to include a revolving chair of groups. If an issue on the agenda includes the Nelson Skating Club, for example, the club would be attending the meeting on behalf of the sports council.
Joe Chirico, general manager of recreation services for the RDCK, told the Nelson Star it is possible for the commission to include the sports council as a voting or non-voting member.
Keith Page, a Nelson city councillor and chair of the commission, said user groups are already invited to the public meetings for feedback.
But giving them voting power, Page said, could lead to complications for the RDCK’s other recreation commissions. He believes there should be a check on having users at the table when taxation is involved.
The root problem, in Page’s opinion, is a desire for a long-term regional recreation plan. He said a multi-year service review that is nearly finished should answer some concerns from user groups, and he agrees their voices should be heard.
“I think that’s really where a lot of this comes from is, what is the long-term plan for sports?” said Page.
“What is the position of Nelson and Creston and Castlegar in creating athletes and bringing events into town and just being a very successful sports and recreation community? I think we are going to solve the same thing across all three of the regional district’s major rec commissions.”
In Nelson, the RDCK owns and manages the Nelson and District Community Complex in addition to the city-owned Civic Centre.
The city owns and manages the fields at Lakeside Park and the Nelson and District Youth Centre. The city also owns the Nelson Curling Club.