Burns Lake council has recently received letters signed by more than a dozen local residents stressing the importance of recreation and asking the village to consider not making any cutbacks.
Earlier this year Burns Lake council decided to conduct an organizational review of the Lakeside Multiplex, Tom Forsyth Memorial Arena and Burns Lake Curling Rink. The review is intended to reduce some of the costs associated with the local recreation facilities.
The village’s recreation department has been dealing with a significant increase in its budget since the Lakeside Multiplex opened in 2014.
In a letter signed by Patti Dube and nine other locals, residents say they are concerned about a potential reduction in operating hours at the Lakeside Multiplex.
“Many of our members, ourselves included, only hold memberships with the Lakeside Multiplex in order to gain use of the squash court,” says the letter. “Should the hours be reduced, many of us would not be able to make regular use of the facility and would therefore be forced to cancel our memberships. We do not feel that this would be an optimal arrangement for either party.”
Heather Anchikoski, who’s been a contract-based yoga teacher for the Lakeside Multiplex since September 2016, also wrote to council saying that Burns Lake, like other small towns, has had difficulties over the years recruiting and retaining professionals such as physicians.
“There are likely complex reasons why we have such turnover of professionals; however, if a small town wishes to attract and keep people, then having high-quality recreation programming is likely part of this puzzle,” she said.
“Improvements in the recreation facilities and programs should be supported. Because not everyone is into outdoor sports, gyms provide an alternative public space for health and socializing in a place with sometimes six months of inclement weather,” she continues.
Anchikoski added that employee hours should not be reduced.
“Staff contribute to the positive, social atmosphere of the facility and provide support to various programs,” she said. “I hope that a beneficial solution will be found without compromising the current quality of services offered by the recreation department at the Lakeside Multiplex.”
Newcomer to Burns Lake Mervyn Thomas said the Lakeside Multiplex has quickly become an important place for him.
“As a newcomer to Burns Lake, I found the centre to be an excellent location to meet and socialize with like-minded people,” he said. “I trust you will seriously consider not cutting back on the community centre [Lakeside Multiplex] and somehow find a way to increase funding to this very vital part of our community.”
Tyler Lolly also wrote to council, saying the Lakeside Multiplex “binds everyone together.”
“I’ve just started going there in the past two months and enjoyed every minute of it, forged so many new friendships alone in the past month, all through the programs they provide,” said Lolly. “The staff is friendly and I do not wish to see anything change please.”
Village staff has yet to prepare a report to council detailing how the organizational review of the recreation facilitates will be conducted.