Spruce Grove: Time to revamp, not remove drop-in sports

City says groups are too big for municipal staff to keep running them

The City of Spruce Grove says it needs to look at new ways to facilitate drop-in sports in the city.
 
Administration says along with updates to provincial legislation surrounding volunteer leaders of these groups, the number of people participating has made it too time consuming for city staff to run.

The new legislation categorizes volunteer organizers as workers, who now have to be up to date on OH&S requirements.

Parkland School Division is also requiring that its facilities' doors stay locked after hours, which requires someone to stand at doors to let people in.

At its last meeting, council heard from Lorie LaPlante, who runs the Spruce Grove Drop In Soccer group. She spoke to the group's constant growth, and appealed to the city to not let the new regulations shut it down.

Community & Protective Services GM David Wolanski says the city isn't trying to shut these groups down, but it needs to structure the organization of them differently.

"I think there's been some miscommunication. The City of Spruce Grove in no way wants to see programs such as this end. We are the champions of recreation programs, wellness initiatives," he said.

"It is what this department and my division - Community Services - wants to achieve. Our concern is just that it can't continue in its current form."

He says the city would have to hire another staff member to facilitate the current system, and that there are higher priorities when it comes to adding new positions.

"We have submitted over 20 full-time positions in the Corporate Plan for next year, and we know we can't have all those positions. So when we look up priorities and what we're doing, we need to make those decisions," he said.

"This is an opportunity where we feel there's options available for community members, or to build, that we would be more than happy and love to assist in building the community capacity to take these on."

The city also points to available drop-ins at the TLC as an additional way that people can get games in, as those drop-ins are fully independent of the municipality and won't be affected.

They also propose that the community look at creating a Spruce Grove chapter, or other extension, of the Edmonton Sport and Social Club.

Wolanski says at the end of the day, the city needs the groups themselves to take on a much bigger role.

"The program has grown exponentially, and we feel it's at a point now - in a city of 35,000 - where there should be, and is enough capacity in the community, to take on the organization and running of such programs. And it's time for us to look at that as we mature as a city."

Spruce Grove says it will continue to meet with impacted groups this month to talk about ways they can take on more of the responsibility for running their drop-ins.
 

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