Sportsplex shortfall may mean cuts
BRACEBRIDGE - Plans to roll back an anticipated revenue shortfall at the Bracebridge Sportsplex may involve some program cutbacks.
The revelation came from recreation and culture department director Leo Broere, who addressed the Clearbrook Trail facility’s anticipated $85,000 shortfall by the end of this year before councillors on May 29.
Broere said the trimming will only affect “general interest” and “periphery” programs that are offered, and won’t affect those related to fitness and wellness.
“We’re tailing back our program offerings and just concentrating on ones that are high in demand and high in numbers,” he said.
The announcement comes about a month after the anticipated shortfall was announced.
Broere said town staff may have underestimated recent changes in the local fitness market, including the reopening of the Gravenhurst Centennial Centre earlier this year and the SNAP Fitness 24-hour gym last fall in Bracebridge.
Though details are currently scant on which specific programs will be affected, Broere tabled a report before councillors that outlined a number of other money-saving measures.
The report says town staff are looking to save $6,000 by cancelling staff training not already scheduled, freezing part-time aquatic and camp staff wages to save $5,000, and cancelling the planned purchase of an on-deck lifeguard chair to save another $1,000.
Broere’s report also says town staff will continue to monitor the sportsplex’s revenues and review departmental expenses for further reductions.
“We’re also looking at a corporate membership drive, and we’ll have a staff report on the table in three weeks,” he said.
Broere said sportsplex staff is also busy currently re-examining the facility’s target markets.
“We’re not competing with the other facilities that are in town … those are cardio, high-cardio and high-performance people that we’re really not after,” he said. “We’re after the people that are entry level, and the people who are looking for rehabilitation … we’re always evaluating and re-evaluating what we’re doing.”
The idea of cutbacks did not sit well with Coun. Scott Young.
“Essentially cutting back on our programming and cutting back on instruction may not be the right course of action at all,” he said. “In fact improving our product, spending a little more to retain and generate additional business might actually be the better course of action.”
Broere, however, reminded council that it had deep-sixed some equipment upgrades proposed by staff during budget talks earlier this year.
“You’ll recall back to the budget process, we anticipated this kind of impact, and we asked for some money for some extra cardio equipment and that was taken out,” he said. “Those are the kinds of value-added pieces that would retain membership and attract new membership.”
Broere’s report also said that a number of other unbudgeted revenues may help soften the shortfall. Combined these items could add up to more than $70,000 according to the report.
Though the novelty of the new Gravenhurst facility has drawn some people away, Broere was also quick to note that some have returned to the sportsplex.
“If somebody is opening up a brand new restaurant, a lot of people just flock to it,” he said. “But the next time they have to eat, they’re going to go back to you.”