Les­lie Lawn Bowl­ing and PlayEs­capes saved from cut

Re­gent Park Golf Course and hol­i­day bus ser­vice also evade coun­cil fund­ing axe

Regina Leader-Post - - CITY + REGION - CRAIG BAIRD

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.”

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