Sandspit wants improvements in recreation program

  • Nov. 28, 2011 8:00 a.m.

Sandspit residents are not getting the same recreation opportunities as other islanders, even though they contribute a large chunk of the Haida Gwaii Recreation Commission’s budget, say members of the Moresby Island Management Committee. The issue is not a new one, but committee members say they are determined to do something about it before the regional district finalizes the 2012 budget and tax levels at the end of March. “We pay 20 percent of their budget in Sandspit, are we getting 20 percent of their time and attention?” said Emmy O’Gorman. “We are contributing double what Port Clements does, double… There’s an imbalance there.” The 2011 budget for the Haida Gwaii Rec Commission, which plans recreation activities and organizes summer programs, was around $100,000. Sandspit taxpayers contributed $18,000 of this, with the rest coming from the other communities on the islands. The rec commission is organized through the Skeena-Queen Charlotte regional district. Ms O’Gorman said Sandspit could likely offer more recreation services to residents on its own, especially if it had the $18,000 now going to the rec commission. Volunteers in Sandspit have already organized activities in the school gym that run every night from Monday to Friday, Ms O’Gorman said. The local rec committee pays facilitators and also provides child care, she said, which has enabled more people to take part in the programs. The volunteers have raised all the money themselves through fundraising and applying for grants. The local committee is also paying the travel costs for a yoga instructor to come from Graham Island to Sandspit once a week, Ms O’Gorman said. The yoga class is offered in several communities through Haida Gwaii Rec, but the instructor said she couldn’t afford to come to Sandspit because of the ferry fare. After Haida Gwaii Rec said it would not cover the travel cost either, she said, the local group decided to pay so residents could continue attending the popular class. Committee members shared Ms O’Gorman’s concerns about the situation, but regional district director Evan Putterill warned that it may be difficult to pull out of Haida Gwaii Rec. If Sandspit does opt out, he said, the other islands communities will likely have to contribute more to keep the rec service going, as its expenses are unlikely to go down much even if it doesn’t have to serve Sandspit. “It’s a very difficult process to go through both politically and technically,” he said. After some discussion, the committee voted to send a letter to the regional district explaining its concerns about the recreation service and asking if it can suggest any solutions.

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