When we think about Golden, we’re not just thinking about our town.
We’re thinking about all of the outlying neighbourhoods. Nicholson, Parson, Donald, just to name a few.
When we get together for events, we see our friends and neighbours from all of these areas. Soirees at the Civic Centre, hockey games at the arena, drop in fitness programs and gear swaps at the Mount 7 Rec Plex, and swimming programs at the pool.
These events are open to everyone in our community, and everyone who travels to them from out of our area.
And yet, the Town of Golden taxpayers are footing the bill to maintain these integral facilities in our community.
Luckily, the Town of Golden and the Columbia Shuswap Regional District are in talks right now of adding a tax to the rural residents of our community to keep these places open and operating regularly, but that may not be enough.
So far, a committee has decided to propose a referendum on our neighbours living outside of town, so they pay 20 per cent of the aggregate operating costs of the facilities. That may sound like a lot, but the Town of Golden residents will continue to pay their 40 per cent share. The extra money will go toward the aggregate costs of operating the facilities, taking some of the burden off of the Town of Golden.
So, although some people might be upset by this sudden increase in fees, the fairness and equality is still not justified.
The Town currently has a few ways of telling how many people from the regional district utilize these facilities on a regular basis. There isn’t a system in place to sign in with your postal code, but with memberships and pool attendance, they estimate more than 20 per cent of usage comes from those who live in Area A. In order to create a fair and neighbourly equitable relationship, the percentage rural residents pay should be somewhat similar to the share of people who use the facilities.
Until there is a way to implement who uses them and from where, there will be no fair answer to who should pay what, but one thing is for sure: the Town of Golden cannot continue footing the bill and keeping these places open.
As one councillor said at a recent meeting, we have enough facilities to accommodate 7,000 people, and yet only 3,700 have been paying for the services so far.
It is my hope that people who live in the regional district won’t be up in arms over this 20 per cent. In fact, I hope they speak up and offer more, however unlikely that may be.
Together, we can create a strong sense of community that is equitable for everyone living in town, and out of town. We will have to work together to ensure everything continues to run smoothly.
So, I hope you’re looking forward to your weekly workout routine, the concerts coming up at the Civic Centre, and you’re getting ready to jump into the outdoor pool that recently opened again for another summer season. See you out there, neighbours.