KEYSA provides sports facility process update
Letter to the Editor
On June 28, 2018 a Letter of Intent was offered to the Kootenay East Youth Soccer Association (KEYSA) by the City of Cranbrook to enter into discussions on a potential License of Occupation limiting construction of an indoor facility to Moir Park.
In a License of Occupation the land remains owned by the city, but permits KEYSA to enhance the property by constructing a fully funded $1.3 million indoor facility, made possible through donations provided by local organizations, individuals, businesses, and government. In our last project update, KEYSA indicated operational challenges with the land offered for the indoor sports facility.
We also indicated that financial information was offered to council during an in-camera meeting on May 7, 2018, but was not accepted prior to voting on location. Over the past few months, KEYSA has worked hard to find a way to make the indoor facility viable at Moir Park.
Unfortunately, information obtained through discussions with potential daytime users has found the remote location of Moir Park to limit accessibility, especially in winter months when the facility will see its greatest use. The reduced use is predicted to result in a substantial loss of revenue.
As a non-profit organization, we cannot afford to lose $40,000 annually and expect to be able to provide this facility for the community while also maintaining our objectives of providing sporting opportunity to hundreds of children in our area. Given our responsibility to our donors, our members/youth athletes, and the community, as well as the strong public preference for a central location, KEYSA is unable to enter into a licence of occupation with the city under these current conditions.
Although stated before, but important to repeat, KEYSA is a non-profit society, not a business. In this, our financial requirement is to operate in a break-even budget. KEYSA has agreed to take the risk of operating this facility. It is important for public to be aware that failed operations means the end of our association in Cranbrook. It is with this in mind that we must approach the seriousness of developing a viable project.
As early as April 12, KEYSA submitted a matrix ranking six locations to mayor and council in which Moir Park ranked the lowest. A public forum was held by the city on June 20. In this, the city limited options to Moir Park and Balment Park. The public forum found 90% of respondents in favour of Balment Park over Moir Park, when only these two options were tabled by the City of Cranbrook.
Still the Letter of Intent was offered for Moir Park. Subsequently, two additional letters were to submitted to mayor and council informing them that Moir Park was again not a viable option. These letters requested permission to appear as a delegation during the June 28 and July 16 council meetings to present the financial information that had not been considered and to discuss reopening discussions on a potential central location (including, but not limited to, Balment Park). Both requests were declined.
From July 2018 to present, KEYSA has researched the topics of: accessibility (i.e. transit), snow removal, recreation and financial planning, public opinion, and existing users as they relate to the facility location. This has resulted in new information pertinent to the discussion, beyond operational finances, that we wish for council to consider. The objective of this research was to find a viable project, not to secure a lucrative location.
Accessibility update: Acknowledging the remote location of Moir Park, council has suggested potentially improving public transit to the area. Data on City of Cranbrook transit shows that ridership is already low. It therefore does not make financial sense to create the extra cost of increasing the frequency of buses or extending the duration of routes in order to accommodate a single facility, when a central location would preclude the need for this.
Snow removal update: Snow removal has also been investigated further. Costs for snow removal at Moir Park are estimated at $10,000-$15,000 per year. Similar to transit, placing the facility at a central location with existing snow removal also removes this cost from whichever group, KEYSA or City of Cranbrook, would assume the costs for snow removal at Moir Park. In this discussion it is important to understand the use of Moir Park in winter months. Soon city staff will winterize the irrigation systems and washrooms, and close the gates to the park. Moir Park will sit dormant until a time in spring when teams are permitted to practice on the fields. In 2017 and 2018, this was not until May. The area is isolated and prone to vandalism.
Recreation and Financial Planning: The City of Cranbrook Recreation Plan (2016-2026) and Financial Plan (2017-2021) have also been reviewed. Neither of these plans discusses the addition of any hard-structure, multi-use complex, which precludes the argument that there is a larger plan for the Balment Park area in the foreseeable future. The Recreation Plan does list “six big goals.” Three of these: 1) Improve Indoor Recreation, 2) Be Financially Accountable, and 3) Increase Collaboration would be satisfied by constructing the indoor facility at a central location.
In this discussion it is also important to note that this facility is not the same as a typical indoor facility lined with boards. This facility is approximately four-times larger than the size of a board-style area and provides a completely different use. As such, when discussing uses of board-style areas, this indoor facility should be seen as complimentary to centralizing sporting facility and not in competition.
Public input: Additionally is the continued public support for a central location. Letters of support for a central location have been provided by several groups including but not limited to Mt. Baker Secondary School, Cranbrook Minor Baseball, and most notably the Sam Steele Society (the largest current user of Balment Park). Support voiced by donors contributing to the facility and citizens of Cranbrook has clearly demonstrated support for a central location.
Existing land-use: Lastly, is existing land use. KEYSA has always indicated respecting existing land use, along with accessibility, as a key consideration when discussing building location. Specific to Balment Park was the BMX course. KEYSA has engaged the BMX Association on multiple occasions since before the public open house and remains fully supportive of all users groups in our community.
If Balment Park is left as the only accessible option, then we request council to consider a configuration that KEYSA and the BMX association discussed together, where both users are located at this location.
It is our opinion, and the opinion of the BMX association, that it does not need to be one or the other as has been presented. We hope to bring in the BMX organization to find a solution that works for the entire community.
We also ask city council to provide an assessment of all potential, accessible, and centrally located land options to determine if it is accurate that Balment Park remains the only central option.
With the barrier created by a remote location, the need to consider financial and long-term success, and clear public support for a central location, KEYSA informed city council that it was unable to enter into a license of occupation for Moir Park on September 17.
KEYSA is now asking the current council to consider these factors when discussing the location for the multi-use indoor facility. Operational finances were not reviewed by city council in previous closed discussions and prior to voting on location, but do show a clear relevance to the conversation.
As well, we have worked to assemble the additional information listed above since July. We asked for city council to include this new information package in their October 1 council meeting package, but were declined.
At this time, KEYSA is requesting for city council to identify a process to establish serious and meaningful dialogue on the location of this project that includes adequate public input, sustainable planning, and is respectful of all citizens.
From the initial stages of this project, KEYSA’s intent has always been to provide our community with a viable and accessible multi-use indoor facility to promote health and wellness, as well as to provide a unique venue for special occasions such as concerts, trade shows, graduation, weddings and many more.
This is an initiative coordinated by a board of volunteers; this is not a business venture. We appreciate all discussion and invite respectful input to be submitted to the Cranbrook Indoor Facility Facebook page.
KEYSA does not endorse any negative or disrespectful discussion on this or any other civic matter. We respect all organizations and individuals in our community. Our official dialogue will only be presented on the Cranbrook Indoor Facility Facebook page.
We look forward to continuing this discussion.