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Surrey cancels a number of outdoor recreation programs

Karen Loveys next to City of Surrey  recreation equipment at Elgin Heritage Park to be sold off after some outdoor programs have been cancelled. - Evan Seal / The Leader
Karen Loveys next to City of Surrey recreation equipment at Elgin Heritage Park to be sold off after some outdoor programs have been cancelled.
— image credit: Evan Seal / The Leader

The City of Surrey will be discontinuing many of its outdoor recreation programs starting Jan. 1, 2014, citing cost, low participation and competition with the private sector as factors in the decision.

Those most affected will be participants in aquatic activities as all boating, paddling, and boarding programs are scheduled to end.

One past program participant who will feel the impact is Karen Loveys, a realtor who used the indoor kayaking program extensively.

There’s a need being met for beginners in the water sport that the private sector isn’t fulfilling, she said.

“[You can] learn what it's like to flip upside down and pull the plug and exit and get out safely in a safe pool environment versus in the middle of the ocean,” said Loveys. “It's much better to do it in the pool.”

According to Loveys, the city is cancelling important programs that the private sector actually uses as a resource to help beginners, often referring them to those services.

But Lisa White, manager of community and recreation services of Surrey, said the number of people who used the programs wasn’t large enough to justify their existence any longer.

“When we evaluated our ongoing programs this was a service that wasn't one of our core programs,” said White. Instead, the city will focus on youth programs such as preschool camps, after-school programs, swimming, and skating.

The city website now lists information about private alternatives for the sports and activities that were cut from the city’s offerings.

“Those programs are in fact costing the city money and we are able to reduce our financial exposure given that we have groups and individuals who are willing to do it themselves,” said Coun. Tom Gill.

“When a company does one thing, they’re really good at doing that one thing,” he said.

The outdoor recreation program started in 2007. In 2012, 652 people participated (58 per cent of capacity). Of the total, 533 registered for programs the city will discontinue.

In the same year, individual activities were cancelled 44 per cent of the time due to low registration.

Discontinued programs include kayaking, paddling and paddle boarding, outdoor cycling, canoeing, cave exploration, dragon boating, sailing, and wakeboarding.

Ongoing programs are snowshoeing, horseback riding, hiking, geocaching, and fishing.

For more information visit http://www.surrey.ca/culture-recreation/1824.aspx

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