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.
“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.”
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.
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.”