A draft report into the state of Saanich’s recreation facilities finds a high, unmet demand for ice. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)

Report finds several recreation facilities in Saanich at their limit

Municipality also faces financial challenges when it comes to recreational services

Saanich residents pay as much or more than other Greater Victoria residents for recreation, but satisfaction with local recreation facilities still remains high as they face long-term changes, including capacity limits.

These findings appear in the draft market analysis study prepared for the District of Saanich. The municipality commissioned the study to chart its future “recreation, wellness and health programs, activities, services and experiences.” A final report is due later this spring.

Looking at financial issues, the report finds that “fees for Saanich facilities are equal or slightly higher than those charged at other facilities.”

Satisfaction with the facilities appears “high” according to the results of a phone survey.

The report also finds that Saanich has several facilities at their limit.

RELATED: Saanich Parks and Rec developing older adult strategy

“Facilities cited as being at capacity included pools, ice arenas, dry floor facilities, and multipurpose spaces,” it reads.

Demand for Saanich’s two pools is high as the report identifies swimming as the most popular recreation activity among Saanich adults and children, who answered the phone survey. Swimming also leads the list for registered children programming as well as for point-of-sale drop-in.

Yet the report finds that the “size and availability of the [aquatic] facilities” limits the availability of new aquatics programs and services.

Comparable comments also apply to the two available ice sheets. “There is unmet demand for ice time from formal organizations, as well as new groups and clubs who would like to provide programs,” it reads. “There is also a need to improve access for the general public and casual users.”

RELATED: Third rink needed immediately at Pearkes, say users

As the report notes, Saanich (along with Greater Victoria) needs more space for various ice sports.

Looking at the larger financial picture, the report warns of challenges ahead thanks to Saanich’s changing demographics. Saanich’s population — which is slightly older than the provincial average at 43.5 years compared to 42.3 years — will shift in the next decade with one in three residents estimated to be over the age of 65 years.

“On the opposite end of the age spectrum, youth under 15 years in the CRD will see a significant jump in the next 10 years, although little change is expected in the 15 to 24 and 25 to 34 age categories,” it reads. Essentially, the number of non-working residents, old or young, will increase in the coming years, putting pressure on available revenues for recreation, with overall revenue streams already pointing downwards.

RELATED: Saanich set to raise recreation rates

At the same time, the number of would-be users is going up, creating additional financial pressures. The report notes among other points that Saanich’s ageing population will “likely require more financial support.” As the report notes, “older adults are particularly vulnerable, as they are more likely to be living on a low income.”

Families are also more likely to have single parents or two working parents, thereby creating time and financial pressures, the report notes.

According to the report, thirteen per cent of Saanich residents live below the low-income line, and if anticipated trend-lines hold true, the number will grow, creating additional challenges for Saanich’s “limited tax base.”

Recreation rates have gone up in recent years, but the report notes “there is not much room to increase fees at this time, considering the regional context.”

Saanich’s parks and recreation division currently has revenues of approximately $12 million and an annual tax subsidy of around $6 million. Parks and recreation accounted for about 13.6 per cent of total operating costs in 2018, up from 13.5 in 2017.


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