Town Council has directed staff to look into divesting from two public assets – the COTR House and Wixon House.
At an Open Finance Standing Committee Meeting the committee, made up of Town Councillors, passed a resolution to direct staff to “continue as previously directed to make best efforts to divest two municipal facility assets, being the COTR House and Wixon House.”
The committee had a lengthy discussion about the Facilities Asset Management Program. Manager of Operations Chris Cochran outlined the municipality’s 16 facilities, along with what it costs the Town to own and operate them, their life expectancy, and their current replacement.
In the future Town Council, with input from the community, will be looking at all the facilities and deciding what services to continue providing and at what level.
An ideal solution for the Town for some of the facilities, in particular the Golden Municipal Swimming Pool, would be to pursue cost sharing with the Columbia Shuswap Regional District. There is currently cost sharing between the two with the Golden Arena.
The committee also passed a resolution to direct staff to prepare a report to bring to the Area A Director (at a previously scheduled fall meeting between the Town and the director), to open a discussion about shared services, specifically regarding the swimming pool.
“The swimming pool is certainly a shared facility,” said Coun. Keith Hern, who suggested that the pool’s operational budget could be taken out of the Economic Opportunities Fund, which is jointly allocated between the Town and the CSRD.
“We’ve found in the past with the CSRD, that it’s either going to be through EOF or a referendum. And if the the regional district is getting the facility for free now, why would they vote to pick up half the cost?”
“I think the pool is our tipping point, in that it’s going to be the facility that we will be able to leverage to get some shared services,” said Mayor Christina Benty.
As for the rest of the facilities, staff has been directed to “provide an individual and collective impact report to operate and maintain all municipal facilities (including associated personnel, programmatic, and service costs) identified in the May 28th, 2014 Briefing Note from the Manager of Operations to their current (with options for enhanced as appropriate) standard.”
The report will help the committee and council decide which facilities should be retained and adequately maintained (possibly to a higher standard), and which, if any, the Town should consider divesting itself of.
Moving forward with these discussions, the Town plans to have extensive public consultations.