Leslie Lawn Bowling and PlayEscapes saved from cut
Regent Park Golf Course and holiday bus service also evade council funding axe
Going into Tuesday’s city council meeting, one of the biggest questions seemed to be what would happen to the Leslie Lawn Bowling Greens, slated for closure in the amended 2017 city budget. As it turned out, the facility and three other proposed cuts were removed from consideration early in the meeting.
“I suggest that we entertain discussion fairly early with the club that runs it for how we can work together so they can take more control and ownership of that,” Mayor Michael Fougere said upon making the motion to save the facility.
Doug Normand, first vice-president of the Regina Lawn Bowling Club, was happy to hear that the facility would be saved and stated the club was ready to work with the city to lower the $65,300 yearly cost of operating it.
“Now that we are not going to be closed, those discussions will take place for us to see how we can move forward with this,” Normand said. “Once we know the (breakdown of costs), we could say what we can live without. That is where the discussions will take place. We are open to anything right now.”
After 56 members went to the amended budget council meeting on April 10, with three members speaking to council as a delegation, the club found the city receptive to its needs and the public wanting to know more about the facility.
“I think it was very helpful to get the club’s name out there,” Normand said. “Some of the exposure came because of the good presentation, but council seemed to be receptive to listen to us when we talked about the situation. I think we opened their eyes for what the facility is used for.”
Following the council meeting, Fougere praised the lawn bowling club’s efforts to save their facility.
“They had a strong message. They were very respectful and very clear,” he said. “They wanted to be part of the solution.”
Another program that was saved was PlayEscapes, an inclusive summer drop-in program that is offered free by the city. In 2016, it was used 18,000 times, costing the city $125,200.
“It is a huge relief that council was wanting to retain that, and keep it a priority,” said Michael Parker, executive director of the North Central Community Association.
“It is a very important service for the neighbourhood as a summer childcare option. If that was removed, we were concerned about the impact that would have on people’s ability to go to work or afford childcare.”
Fougere was also happy that council kept the program alive.
“The PlayEscapes program for kids, we clearly want to maintain that one,” he said.
Statutory holiday bus service, originally slated to end July 1, will also continue, and the closure of Regent Park Golf Course will not happen. All the saved items together cost the city just under $300,000 per year.
Several other programs and services were not as lucky, including the collection depot program, the summer sweep and the Agribition transit grant. The transit grant, which cost the city $60,000, was used by 20,000 people during Agribition. On Wednesday, Canadian Western Agribition (CWA) announced it would foot the bill.
“With or without the city supporting it, we feel it is still an important service for our guests and residents of Regina,” said CWA CEO Chris Lane. “We understand the budgets are putting a lot of groups in tough spots and we have decided not to pass this cut along to our guests.”