Parks & recreation dominates second day of MV budget discussions

Robert Fisher
Staff Reporter

BARRY’S BAY – Council for the Township of Madawaska Valley opened the Feb. 27 special meeting on the 2024 budget with the parks and recreation department.

Coun. Shelley Maika questioned multiple budget lines related to the events budget for 2024. The 2023 events budget was $73,100 and actuals were just under $49,000. There were significant savings in the Canada Day and Christmas party events. Swim instructor salaries were nearly $8,000 less than budget. Budget for the Canada Day event has been reduced by $6,000 compared to 2023. The budget for the Christmas party is being left the same at $15,000. Swim instructor salaries are budgeted at $30,000 compared to $34,000 in 2023 and actuals of $26,000.

“From a percentage point of view,” Maika began, “that’s a dramatic increase,” in salaries for swim instructors. The councillor asked if an additional person was being hired for the swim program.

Hannah Gutoskie, recreation co-ordinator, said the same number of people would be hired for 2024 and that the township has to pay a premium to get instructors because of scarcity. Gutoskie clarified, twice, that one instructor is hired a few weeks earlier, before classes begin, to handle registrations.
The recreation budget draft includes an increase of $125,000 in capital expenditure for Lakeshore Park. The primary cost is for new play facilities at the park.

Coun. Mary Blank said the cost of equipment is high and that council needs to look more closely at the project.

Gutoskie told council there used to be two play structures at the park and that one was removed in 2020 because it failed safety inspections. She said the prior council had budgeted $110,000 for new equipment which was not spent due to staff turnover. Gutoskie said part of the plan is to generate sponsorship to offset some of the cost.

Maika began by saying she’s not generally opposed to new play structures for the park but that she feels the township needs to have some of the cost funded by grants and, “that’s not happening.” She asked where the reserves were coming from that are being drawn on for the proposed play equipment. Treasurer Amanda Hudder said part of the money was coming from cash in lieu of parks from subdivision construction. Maika then complained that the cash in lieu of parkland account was built up from subdivisions outside of Barry’s Bay proper and that it was all being used for a park within Barry’s Bay. Blank attempted to speak and was interrupted. Mayor Mark Willmer attempted to interject and was spoken over by Maika.

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