Board members at the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) unanimously declined a request from the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) to assist with funding for Meadow Park Sports Centre, which is currently subsidized by Whistler taxpayers by $1.38 million every year.
Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said the municipality now has to weigh its options, including raising prices for non-residents or offering residents a discount to use the facility.
"(We have an) analysis of where users of the facility are coming from and we know the tax revenues that go into paying the cost for that facility," she said on Monday. "The first step was to invite the SLRD to make a contribution to the operating costs for the sports centre to reflect the fact that users are coming from the Village of Pemberton, Area C and so on. The SLRD board declined to do that.
"Had they (contributed) then we wouldn't have had to change our cost structure. Now, the next step is to report back to council and say 'no, the SLRD is not interested in making a direct contribution, so where do we go from here?' And one of the options is to go to a tiered pricing structure so that local residents get a break."
At the meeting, directors told Whistler to do whatever they had to do, because they have no funding available for the centre. Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy wondered how the local's pricing would go over with Whistler's hotel association.
The RMOW was looking for a 10 per cent contribution from the SLRD, roughly $137,473 per year to reflect user numbers. Currently non-residents make up five per cent of pass holders, 15 to 20 per cent of arena users and 30 per cent of swim lesson participants. In the RMOW's view, that means that Whistler taxpayers are directly subsidizing non-residents using the facilities.
The letter to the SLRD also pointed out that the SLRD is not being asked to pay any capital costs for facility upgrades and equipment replacing, which currently costs the RMOW $150,000 per year.
Mosquito problem on agenda for Pemberton and region
The summer of 2012 has been particularly bad for mosquitoes in the Pemberton area, according to Mayor Jordan Sturdy, who tabled a motion at Monday's SLRD meeting to see if there was any interest in discussing a regional mosquito control program. The motion was passed by the board, and will be added to the agenda in the fall — too late for this year, but it takes a few years for control programs to have an effect anyway, said Sturdy.
Funding was available a few years ago for mosquito control as a result of West Nile virus concerns, but that has dried up. But while the health issue may not sell the idea of mosquito control, Sturdy says there are other reasons why the SLRD should discuss the idea.