Letter to the Editor of the Victoria Times Colonist, August 2004
I am writing regarding the proposed closure of Victoria’s community centres. While action must be taken to meet the city’s future recreational needs, I am not convinced that city council is moving in the right direction.
On July 8th, council received the report of the Recreation Renewal Project Team. Steps are now being taken toward a new ‘recreation Hub’ for the city. If the current course is followed to completion, Victoria’s network of twelve major community centres and seniors’ centres will be replaced by 2009 with four large ‘wellness and recreation centres’. City-owned sites slated for ‘decommissioning’ include Crystal Pool, Royal Athletic Park, Silver Threads Seniors’ Centre, James Bay New Horizons, Fernwood Community Centre, and the Fairfield Community Place.
Victoria has built up an impressive network of neighbourhood facilities in recent decades. This network needs to be expanded, not decommissioned. While upgrades to existing facilities are no doubt needed, a handful of mega-projects will not provide the solution. Our existing community centres and senior’s centres require guaranteed, stable funding to strengthen the ties of community, in order to prevent urban decay and associated social ills.
The current proposal appears to leave the door open for a larger private-sector role in community recreation services. This is a major concern. Victorians do not want every aspect of their community to be commercialized. City council would be wise to reconsider the proposal at hand.