Sunday, September 12, 2010

Wascana Centre needs new funding: report

Urban park will 'crumble' without additional dollars - CBC News

The Wascana Centre Authority maintains 930 hectares of parkland in Regina. Regina's largest park is in desperate need of a cash infusion, according to a report prepared for city council.

The Wascana Centre, which includes the man-made Wascana Lake and other manicured property around the provincial legislative building and the University of Regina, has been strapped for operating funds in recent years, the report says.

The green space, which sprawls across 930 hectares of Regina, is maintained by the Wascana Centre Authority, which receives money from the U of R, the province and the city as well as some user fees collected from special events in the park.

"Wascana Centre Authority is facing serious challenges from an operating perspective," officials note in the report.

'This almost 50-year-old wonderful centre and legacy that is free for all people to enjoy on a daily basis will soon crumble.'

Report on funding issues facing Wascana Park in Regina
The report details how funding has not kept pace with rising costs over the years. It says the park was "well funded from its inception in 1962 until the mid 1980s."

The hardest time for the park was from 1990 to 2003 when "funding dropped 17 per cent and then remained at virtually no increase," the report states.

The centre currently receives $5.6 million for its annual maintenance and operations.

"Maintaining 2,300 acres with only $450,000 more than 25 years ago is simply not feasible," the report warns.

"If the operating deficit … is not addressed, this almost 50-year-old wonderful centre and legacy that is free for all people to enjoy on a daily basis, will soon crumble and no longer be the jewel [of the legislature and city]," the report concludes.

Extra cash for 2010
City administrators are recommending Regina chip in an immediate $150,000 for the park.

The report says the provincial government "will be providing providing an additional $150,000 to Wascana Centre Authority for 2010."

To cope with funding shortfalls, the authority has already laid off the only full-time constable who patrols the grounds and reduced the hours of other constables to provide coverage only on summer weekends.

Cuts have also been made on horticulture services in the park and snow removal.

The park was spruced up in 2005 with a special project, which became known as the "Big Dig," when Wascana Lake was drained and deepened.

Since then, the report notes, usage of the park has doubled.

WCA worker
The recommendation for additional spending by the city goes to a committee of city council on Wednesday. If the committee accepts the recommendation it will go to a regular meeting of Regina city council for approval.

SGEU 2006 Brief on WCA
SGEU 2002 Brief on WCA

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