Is it time for a recreation commission in Greenwood?
Greenwood City Council will be deciding the future of their recreation commission at their next meeting Monday night. For the last few years the commission has been a relatively informal group mostly acting as a conduit for funding from regional recreation to support local events. A recent request from the Friends of the Greenwood Improvement Society (FOTGIS) to take over the duties of the commission has had council looking at their existing bylaw in an attempt to fully consider the potential impact of their decision. Should the city confirm the FOTGIS as the recreation commission they would be an autonomous arm of government funded by the city, said City Councillor Christopher Stevenson. “It doesn’t seem like people really know the difference between a commission and a committee,” said Stevenson. “If you research what a commission really is, it is an autonomous, independent body created by council that is given a lot of powers that a committee isn’t. The administrator said we have to decide if we want a commission or not. I don’t think we need one.” Darla Ashton, one of the members of FOTGIS, said they made the proposal to council because they saw that the people involved with the current recreation commission had been doing the job for a long time and wanted to hand the work over to someone else. “We thought we’d just try and step up to the plate and take that on as part of our current group who are just community members,” she said. Ashton said that the request from FOTGIS forced the council to look at their “ancient” bylaw that she says hasn’t been followed for quite a while. “There’s a feeling with a couple of the councillors that a commission is a little too powerful for their liking, so they’re either not wanting to do that, or, I’m not sure what direction they’re going to take,” said Ashton. “Sometimes it might be better to have a group that has no one particular interest in mind and that they have the community as a whole at heart. FOTGIS certainly has. Even though we do wear other hats in the community, we’re basically for the greater good of the community.” At their last council meeting the sentiment seemed to be a split with councillors on both sides of the argument. At the heart of the matter is the fact that the regional recreation bodies cannot provide money directly to individuals doing community events and so the recreation commission has acted as that conduit for money. City Administrator, Gerry Henke, presented council with a revised bylaw for consideration suggesting that the commission be made up of representatives from a variety of groups with interests in the community. “I think it’s silly in a place that has only 600 people and a few facilities – you don’t really need a commission to do your work,” said Stevenson. “In the past two individuals have been acting as the commission but they haven’t been following any kind of bylaw. They’ve been doing events in town.” Stevenson said that as a result of the initiative from FOTGIS, council now has to make some decisions about what direction to take. In the past, council has worked with different groups to do events and that work did not require status as a commission. “I think the majority of council’s position is that (a recreation commission) should be broadly based. If there is going to be a commission it needs to have representation from across the community it can’t just be one group.” The bylaw discussion was tabled at the last meeting, but the item remains on the agenda for their next meeting Monday, June 29. FOTGIS has been actively doing different projects in Greenwood including spearheading the improvements at the pool, supporting the seniors group to write a proposal for funding that they were successful in receiving, and sponsored the Olympic soiree last January. “We just want things to go (in Greenwood), and go in a positive way for everyone,” said Ashton.