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Parks and Recreation facing challenges

The Reminder is making its archives back to 2003 available on our website. Please note that, due to technical limitations, archive articles are presented without the usual formatting.

The Reminder is making its archives back to 2003 available on our website. Please note that, due to technical limitations, archive articles are presented without the usual formatting.

Flin Flon Parks and Recreation faces a number of challenges but is prepared to tackle them with innovative ideas, the Chamber of Commerce heard yesterday. Guest speaker Brenda Russell, director of recreation, shared with the 20 attendees some of those issues, including Flin Flon's "aging" recreational facilities. "Challenges within facilities, maintenance and improvements Ñ that area is probably our biggest challenge," she said. Russell said the first challenge of her department is "to maintain and improve all facilities to a quality standard that ensures safety, maximum use and participation while recognizing economic factors Ñ so many facilities, less dollars to go around." Another issue she mentioned is providing "maximum and diversified recreation opportunities that are affordable and accessible for all ages." "The main challenge here is... how much can we charge people to use our programs and facilities to offset operating expenses but still keep it affordable so as not to discourage people from participating," commented the recreation director. "We have a responsibility to provide these services to the taxpayers of our community and we are now trying to be creative to find ways to offset those costs." Russell also mentioned wanting "to have organizations and community groups get more involved in facility or equipment upgrades." She said that community groups can often access funding sources that the City cannot, such as private grants. It can also be difficult to determine "what's needed, what's saturated in the market, what's a trend" in terms of recreational programming, Russell said. While Parks and Recreation has some hurdles to overcome, Russell said there have been a number of successes. One such initiative is the Joe Brain Children's Petting Zoo, which replaced the old zoo near McIsaac School Ecole McIsaac in 1997. "This is a facility that has drawn envy and accolades from many of my recreation peers around the province and across the country," commented Russell. She explained that "the original zoo was a year-round facility that was getting too costly to operate and was in a deteriorating condition." The recreation director said the new structure saves the City approximately $65,000 each year in operating costs. Another success Russell spoke of was Camp Whitney, which was turned over to the City when non-profit groups could no longer afford to operate it. "It truly is our diamond in the rough thanks largely to a strong core of volunteers who have spent time and money to modernize and improve this beautiful outdoor facility," she said. See 'Meeting' P.# Con't from P.# Russell concluded her speech by mentioning some of the benefits of recreation, including improved health for participants, which she said can reduce health care costs. President Dave Kendall thanked Russell for her time and presented her with a Chamber lapel pin. A recap of other matters from the meeting: Treasurer Lois (Bunny) Burke noted that former Flin Flon MP Rod Murphy will be the guest speaker at tomorrow's Communities Working Together Celebration gala, co-sponsored by the Chamber. She said that Murphy will speak about the NDP's vision for Northern Manitoba. Kendall passed around one of the Chamber's new "Flinty coins," with the City of Flin Flon logo on one side and Flintabbatey Flonatin on the other. The coin will be officially unveiled at tomorrow's gala at the R.H. Channing Auditorium. Kendall called it "a very nice coin and a very good keepsake." Kendall congratulated the Flin Flon Lions Club on their 50th anniversary, mentioning he represented the Chamber at the service club's celebration banquet over the weekend.