Chris Luke

Pitt Meadows vents about parks & rec service

City's joint agreement with Maple Ridge under review as contract expired this year

Several Pitt Meadows councillors voiced their frustration about the parks department Tuesday as a review of the city’s joint service agreement with Maple Ridge nears completion.

The city’s contract expires this year, so both municipalities are accessing whether the partnership still serves them well.

Recreation consultant Brian Johnston jotted down a litany of complaints from Pitt Meadows council, ranging from the quality of service to the quantity.

Coun. Gwen O’Connell, who works at the Wesbrooke seniors residence, said many seniors feel the seniors’ centre isn’t open enough and wished it was busier.

“I envisioned we’d have like a Langley seniors centre or Burnaby. Those places are booming,” O’Connell said, adding youth have the same concerns about their centre being open for too short a time frame.

“There’s a lot of staff in parks and rec [sic] and I just don’t think we get our fair share.”

Mayor Deb Walters noted there have been issues with Pitt Meadows public arts committee, a Canada Day celebration, the seniors’ and youth centres.

“What really bothers me is we have these committees and people who want to grow events within our community, but there doesn’t seem to be the desire to nurture them to grow and become independent in Pitt Meadows,” Walters said during the meeting Tuesday. “I somewhat resent the fact that when we had problems … it was our city hall staff who were dealing with the problem.”

Walters would like to see more marketing of parks and recreation programs in Pitt Meadows. She noted that the youth centre seems virtually empty every time she visits it.

“We get reports that there are all these kids in the youth centre, but I go over there on a regular basis and we are lucky to have two. I don’t know where these numbers are coming from.”

The per capita cost to provide parks and recreation services to Pitt Meadows residents was $95 when the last review was done in 2010. It’s projected to be $121 per capita in 2014.

General manger of parks and recreation Kelly Swift said this spike in operating costs is a result of an increase in service since 2010, including park, program and facility developments in both communities.

Examples include the South Bonson Community Centre, the Pitt Meadows Seniors Centre, MacLean Park, the Harris Road skate park and just-completed upgrade of the Pitt Meadows Family Recreation Centre.

The last review found Pitt Meadows was getting a bargain on recreation services as its per capita costs were lower than other municipalities of the same size.

Parks and leisure is expected to cost the city $2.2 million in 2014, making it the second largest service cost in the budget after police. The city is spending $15,000 on a consultant to review the joint agreement, with Maple Ridge chipping in the same amount. A final report is due in June.

Mayor Walter stressed there was no appetite for Pitt Meadows to create its own parks department.

“I want to make it very clear that we appreciate our partnership with Maple Ridge and have a good working relationship that has serves us well,” said Walters, following Tuesday’s meeting.

“Having said that, it is incumbent upon us to review the agreements from time to time to assure our residents that we are providing the best delivery of services for their tax dollars. We understand the benefits of sharing programs … but at a time when we are watching our pennies and hearing from citizens who are asking what a Pitt Meadows own model might look like, it is timely to review.”

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