The Central Cariboo Joint Committee has endorsed an option to soften the blow of a projected $250,000 budget deficit at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The option will see the complex operate with reduced facility maintenance hours to reflect ice arena operation use between March 29 and June 28.
Ian James, director of community services with the city, presented four options to the Central Cariboo Joint Committee made up of city councillors and CRD directors at a special meeting the evening of March 10.
With provincial health office orders and restrictions expected to remain in place in regards to gatherings, events and high-intensity activity, three of the four options involved changes in either hours of operation, or reduced staff hours.
Under the endorsed option, the new forecasted budget deficit would be approximately $155,000 overspent, while saving 115 hours per week on facility maintenance staff labour, along with the opportunity to create new revenue-generating programs in the Gibraltar Room and ice arena by leaving one ice pad in throughout the spring and summer.
“I think it was the best option,” James said. “It’s what I call prudent management in keeping access to the facility for all residents, which is fantastic.”
No morning or afternoon facility closures are required under the endorsed option, and no change to facility user group activity at the CMRC will take place. James said the ice arena activities will be reduced throughout the spring and summer, resulting in less demand on facility maintenance responsibilities.
One full time and two casual staff will be relocated to municipal services to take on outdoor student work if they qualify, James said, in the report.
“It’s a good situation for us because we can be creative and move certain staff around so they are not losing work,” he said. “It’s a win for everyone.”
Prior to settling on the endorsed option, the other three ideas offered to reduce the budget deficit included no change in operations, reduced facility operating morning hours from Monday to Friday March 29 to June 28 or to close the recreation complex on Sundays from March 29 to June 28.
With a responsibility to provide recreation opportunities to residents at a reasonable price because taxpayers are already contributing to the facility, the CMRC normally runs at a deficit, but makes up for it with user fees, James noted.