Greater Vernon Recreation Services is reporting significant losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
During a recent review of fourth-quarter recreation statistics, director Doug Ross told city council participation and revenue were down significantly across all activity areas.
Between October and December 2020, public participation was down between 29 per cent – 75 per cent of which for activities including public swimming, swim lessons, fitness, drop-in sports and playschool gym programs, according to a city press release.
The extended closure of recreation facilities amounted to $1.75 million in lost revenue in 2020, according to Ross, who added the loss was partially offset by a reduction in expenditures — including the need to lay off staff.
Ross added that several adaptations were put in place to meet health order requirements and provide continued opportunities for community members, to keep moving and participate at the end of 2020.
Ross said Recreation Services has been “nimble” over the past several months, making adjustments to match recreation services with the current public health orders.
“For example, because of physical distancing protocols, our swim instructors have had to keep at least two metres distance between themselves and members of the public, so parents or guardians have had to participate in swim lessons with their kids. It has been a different approach for everyone, but it has also meant swim lessons could be reintroduced to our activity schedules.”
The following activities were able to operate during the last quarter:
- 416 swim lessons
- 10,000 user visits for public swimming
- 3,140 user visits for fitness programs
- 2,470 user visits for walking at Kal Tire Place
- 720 user visits for public skating
- 525 user visits for drop-in sports
- 114 children being able to participate in playschool gym programs, with assistance from their parents or guardians
To further offset losses, user fees were increased to start the year.
“In order to limit the need for further service reductions, user fees were also increased by five per cent, effective January 1,” said Ross. “The Greater Vernon Recreation Services funding partners – the City of Vernon, District of Coldstream, and Electoral Areas B and C – also approved an increase in funding of approximately $365,000.”