The Parks, Recreation, and Culture Advisory Committee is recommending Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services not be area rated or considered a Special Service. I believe this is contrary to the results of the Area Rating Survey recently completed by residents. Approximately 65 % of residents polled favoured treating Parks, Recreation, and Culture as a special service with different levels of service in each Ward.
The PRC committee is justifying their recommendation with comments such as:
A healthy and active community is a benefit to all
Facilities are accessible to all residents
Social benefits of recreation are similar to education and therefore the cost to realize such benefits must be shared by all
There is no question that a healthy and active community is a benefit to all. However, the recreation facilities provided by Port Hope are not the only options available to us for recreation or fitness. Every winter morning I strap on my cross country skis and ski on my own rural property at no cost to MPH. As a family we belonged to Oshawa Ski Club with no public funding provided. My daughter runs marathons, no municipal facilities required. Many Ward 2 residents use recreation and cultural facilities in Cobourg, Hamilton Township, and Millbrook.
To say facilities are accessible to all is a bit of a stretch; they are certainly not equally accessible. Port Hope is a 30 minute drive for some Ward 2 residents and most programmes and facilities are located within town limits. Ward 2 has two poorly maintained ballparks.
There is no question we all benefit from an educated society. But using this argument to justify everyone pays for municipal recreation services is ridiculous. As a family we had one option for education, a publicly funded school system. (Private schools and home schooling are supervised by the Ministry of Education). When it came to providing recreation and culture we had many options and not all of them from Port Hope.
Residents of Ward 1, Ward 2, Hamilton Township, and Cobourg use the recreation and cultural facilities of Port Hope, and Port Hope needs to have people using these facilities to justify their existence and provide fees. I think some creative thinking could result in a fee structure that is fair to all. I participate in a program at Cobourg Y, and my options are to buy a membership or “pay as I go”.
Council surveyed the residents of the municipality and the majority said Parks, Recreation, and Culture should be considered a special service. If you aren’t going to honour the results of the survey you shouldn’t have asked the question.