Whitehorse city council is considering adopting a 13-page policy that would govern how bookings are doled out each season at the Canada Games Centre (pictured), Takhini Arena, the Grey Mountain Room at the Mount McIntyre Recreation Centre and any other indoor facility the city may have in the future. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)

New policy would govern how city facilities are booked

The new policy sets out priorities for the use of city recreation spaces

Thinking about what space your group will need next season at the Canada Games Centre or other city facility?

You may want to peruse a 13-page policy Whitehorse city council is considering adopting.

The document would govern how bookings are doled out each season at the Canada Games Centre, Takhini Arena, the Grey Mountain Room at the Mount McIntyre Recreation Centre and any other indoor facility the city may have in the future.

Krista Mroz, the city’s manager of recreation and facility services, presented the proposed policy at council’s Oct. 7 meeting.

As she told council, the policy has been in the works since November 2018 when input was gathered from stakeholders and drafting of the new policy got underway to replace older documents the city has been using for years to guide the bookings.

Outlined in the document are seven guiding principles the city would use to determine how it allocates its space, the first being a focus on overall community benefits.

Also in the principles are emphasis on efficient and appropriate use of city spaces; ensuring diverse recreation opportunities are available for all; supporting the success and sustainability of local groups; aligning users with the most appropriate space for their activities; transparency in space allocations; and taking into account the historical use of certain spaces while also recognizing the needs of new user groups.

A scoring system would be in place based on those guidelines to determine how space is allocated along with deadlines for the city to determine what group gets what space and when.

Should two groups looking for the same space at the same time come to a tie when the scoring system is used and are unable to reach a solution, the city’s director of community and recreation services would review the information and, likely after speaking with both groups, make a decision on which group will get the space.

There is no appeal process outlined to challenge a decision of the director.

She said it’s unlikely, though possible, with the proposed scoring system that two groups would end up with the same score.

Officials had looked at the possibility of an appeal process, but given the short timelines in place between when groups have to put in their requests for seasonal times and when the schedules are confirmed, an appeal process couldn’t be accommodated. Groups also need to know the schedules as they plan for the coming season.

Under the policy for the regular season from October to April, there would be a base allocation allotted to user groups based on previous season schedules on May 1. A deadline of June 1 would be set for user groups to make submissions or request changes to what’s been allocated with July 1 marking the date allocations would be finalized for the upcoming season.

Meanwhile, for the summer season from May to September, base allocations would be provided by Dec. 1 with Jan. 1 marking the deadline for user groups to make submissions or request changes and Feb. 1 marking the date summer space allocations will be finalized.

Mroz acknowledged the deadlines for space allocations aren’t perfect for all user groups, but noted efforts were made to develop schedules that could work best for as many user groups as possible.

City officials have been working with user groups to gather input on the proposed policy since November 2018 and tested the policy out around user groups’ requests during the summer “with little to no impact to what groups received in previous years,” she said.

“Conflicts did arise, but staff were able to address them at earlier stages, negating the need for escalation.”

Coun. Laura Cabott questioned how the city balances offering more general recreation programming with opportunities for high performance athletes to train.

“It’s definitely a challenge balancing the needs of a community as a whole,” Mroz replied, adding that generally the city focuses on more general recreation opportunities during prime time use with high performance opportunities offered at other times on the schedule.

The proposed policy also outlines rates for user groups, insurance requirements, and cancelation procedures, refund details and more.

City council will vote whether to adopt it Oct. 15.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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