Estimates evaluation shows parks, rec and culture surplus

Parks budget part of estimates series to review coming budget

Some years are good and others less so, dependent on factors such as weather, but this year the Parks, Recreation and Culture Commission maintained a healthy budget.

Oak Bay council perused the commission’s 2016 budget, seeking a 2.4 per cent increase, during the first of three estimates meetings. “Generally the feeling was it was a reasonable budget,” said Mayor Nils Jensen.

“What we’re going to look at is some years we have surplus and some years we have deficits … there was surplus last year (and we’re going to ) get some direction on how best to apply that to the municipality.

“We may well be able to use some of it in capital projects.”

The Parks, Recreation and Culture Department finished 2015 with a net operating expenditure of $3,586,064, 11.64 per cent (or $472,255) less than the approved net budget of $4,058,319.

Council asked that the director of financial services come back with information on how best to use surpluses.

“One always has to be careful to take surpluses into operating. You can do that but you may not have a surplus next year and what are you going to do about that? Never depend on a surplus … then you have to look at reducing services and it has the potential for spiralling,” Jensen said.

“We’ll look at whether all the capital projects are necessary, we’ll make a decision on that when we come to making decisions on the overall budget.”

Among other notables coming up during budget that will get discussion this year are funds set aside to start reviewing the future of Carnarvon Park.

“We did have a plan for Carnarvon Park to renew the park. Most of the plan was put into place by moving into the Neighbourhood Learning Centre,” he said.

“Now that the original Carnarvon renewal project moved, we have to go back and see what facilities should be there.”

They plan to start a public engagement process, he said, to determine community ideals.

Oak Bay has two more budget meetings set.

“We’ve looked at the police budget, the parks recreation and culture budget,” Jensen said.

“We’ll look at all the other departmental budgets.”

The final two estimates meetings are stalled for April 6 and 13 at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers at municipal hall, 2167 Oak Bay Ave. Find agendas online at oakbay.ca.