Usage-based model may be funding solution

With the Sportsplex funding going to referendum on an area-by-area basis, it is virtually guaranteed that not everyone will end up paying into the facility.

It’s another blow to regional recreation, and indeed to regional thinking as a whole – something that our regional district here in the Cowichan Valley has long struggled with.

It’s not black and white, though.

We sympathize with directors from areas like North Oyster and Youbou for whom the Sportsplex is a tough sell.

Simply by virtue of proximity, fewer people from these areas use the facility.

But we also agree with directors who argue that the whole point of grouping together to form a collective government is to be able to do things together that they can’t do separately. There is value to the larger community to do things that may only directly benefit a particular group – in this case, users of the Sportsplex.

The community as a whole gains from having this facility as such amenities help to draw people (taxpayers) to live and work here, and it allows us to host events such as the B.C. Seniors Games and the North American Indigenous Games. The Sportsplex will no doubt be an important part of the B.C. Summer Games when Cowichan hosts them in 2018.

Ladysmith Mayor Rob Hutchins expressed frustration that not all areas pay into things like Social Planning Cowichan, which is putting together a regional affordable housing strategy, and Safer Futures, which is tackling the regional domestic violence crisis the area faces. That only some areas are paying for this kind of vital work that directly impacts the health of the Cowichan Valley is shocking.

During the Sportsplex discussion there was some willingness expressed, even if some areas couldn’t stomach an equal-pay model, to consider a usage-based model.

North Cowichan Mayor Jon Lefebure said he wouldn’t be opposed, even though Duncan Mayor Phil Kent rightly pointed out that North Cowichan and the city already pay more for the Sportsplex than areas that are further away as they give the facility separate funding, along with the CVRD’s contribution.

Something to keep in mind when the referendum rolls around.

Directors Bruce Fraser and Gerry Giles of Shawnigan Lake and Cobble Hill respectively, mentioned that for their areas the difference between an all-in, equal pay model and a usage model where areas pay according to how many people go there would be a paltry one cent.

Perhaps this is the way to go if it will help to get everyone on side. Working together is what it’s all about.

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