To The Editor:
Dear Board members:
RE: Open Letter to the Community
At its April 27, 2022 public meeting, Nelson & District Recreation Commission received your open letter of April 13, 2022.
Following discussion on the open letter, Nelson & District Recreation Commission (“the Commission”) wanted to acknowledge receipt of the letter and your request: “formally requesting a voice and a permanent seat on the Rec commission 5 to allow NRSC the opportunity to offer an informed directive representing the user groups made up of mainly volunteers representing sports in our region.”
The Commission values opportunities for partnership and collaboration with community partners. That said, we feel there is groundwork still needed before your request can be considered.
We believe that productive community dialogues begin with authentic and respectful engagement. The Commission does not feel that kind of engagement took place in this instance. Invitations from the Nelson Regional Sports Council (NRSC) to the open forum mentioned in the letter were not sent to all Commissioners, and Commission staff of the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) were not invited or even informed of the forum.
From our perspective, Commissioners were either not given the opportunity to attend, or not given enough advance notice to allow those Commissioners who were invited to attend- — let alone the neighbouring municipalities referenced in the letter.
This Commission is committed to delivering the greatest value for the taxpayer’s dollar to support public recreation opportunities, while balancing competing demands from other public services. In that context, recreation user groups are hugely important stakeholders.
It has been our honour and privilege over the last few years to welcome user group delegations to every single monthly Commission meeting. We have heard from a number of user groups as they navigate the difficulties of COVID-19, long-term sustainability, growth and succession management, which provides clarity to the Commission on opportunities and road-blocks. Attendance at public Commission meetings by these user groups has led to the development of meaningful conversations and collaboration to solve problems.
The Commission strongly believes that any user group advocating for a permanent seat on the Commission should first take the opportunity to attend public Commission meetings. This allows user group representatives to understand the work being undertaken and to ask questions during the public time.
Regretfully, the Commission could not identify an instance of NRSC sending a representative to a Commission meeting in the last few years, nor of the NRSC providing public comment on the business before the Commission. If we are mistaken in this, please let us know. We feel this omission goes against what you stated in your request, “to improve and support our elected officials in finding common ground between the governing bodies of the RDCK and the municipal groups in developing strong leadership with policy directives and access to the co-managed facilities for all user groups.”
After your open letter was published, multiple groups who attended the forum reached out to the Commission to make clear that they did not support the approach of the NRSC, nor did they provide the support attributed to them in the letter. We hope this was not the intention of the NRSC.
We acknowledge that some user groups are frustrated by the planning and implementation of the long-term strategy for Nelson and District Recreation, and that there is frustration from important rural participants in the Nelson-centric focus of the past. These are the exact issues the Commission has been wrestling with to address the concerns of the service review that is currently underway.
As we navigate our way forward with the frustrations expressed by your open letter and the context of the service review, I would like to state that our door is open. The 2022 Commission meeting schedule is available on the RDCK website, and user groups — and any member of the public— is encouraged to attend.
Please visit the link for the public meeting schedule and contact information for the Commission:
We hope this will facilitate greater understanding and dialogue in the future. We look forward to developing this conversation further and we hope to see more of your group at our public meetings in the future.
Each of us has the opportunity to have a say in civic conversations. We encourage everyone to contribute with respect, thoughtfulness and fair intentions.
Keith Page, Chair – Nelson & District Recreation Commission