Community Recreation Associations

Also known as Hall Boards. The acronym for Community Recreation Association (CRA) makes us think of more “taxing” thoughts however, I will use “CRA” and try not to smile when using it going forward!

CRAs are vital to our community and have for many years been places for communities to gather, play, celebrate and work. With the aid of countless volunteer hours, community meetings, parties and events continue to occur to help make communities vibrant. To enable volunteers to focus on community events and fundraising, Staff and Council recognized that the operation of the CRAs needed to be adjusted, to make working and volunteering for CRAs more efficient and rewarding.

A 2017 approved by-law identified the CRAs key functions as:

  • Provide recreational activities and community events;
  • Establish fees, if any, for the recreational activities, social and community events provided by the Association;
  • Engage community members to assist in the operation and maintenance of outdoor rinks, hosting of community events and fundraising campaigns; and,
  • Recomend to the Township potential capital or maintenance improvements required.

The Township responsibilities include: establish user fees, approve capital projects, provide liability insurance for CRA volunteers and events, arrange and oversee all operations, maintenance and rentals of the CRAs, and entering into contracts.

Council recently approved changes that will make this happen. The Township will manage the CRAs through the Recreation, Parks and Properties department. All CRA facility rentals will be booked through the Springwater Customer Service Representatives.

Part-time Facility Monitors are being employed by the Township. They will be the Township’s representative during events, responsible for opening, set up and closing of the facility. They will provide client orientation and answer questions related to the facility event.

The Township will be responsible for CRA facility operations including:

  • Room set-up and clean-up and ensuring that all tables and chairs are clean and in good working order;
  • Responsible to complete repairs and report any damage to the facility or equipment;
  • Responsible for stocking supplies and providing general housekeeping duties for the functions such as cleaning floors, windows, washrooms etc.;
  • Conducting detailed inspections of the interior and exterior of the facility to ensure that all exits are clear of obstructions including external snow removal during the winter months. Complete appropriate forms indicating any repairs required;
  • Ensuring that all licensed functions have acquired and posted the appropriate license;
  • Ensuring that the facility is secure and vacant at the end of use and that the alarm is appropriately set and building is secure; and,
  • Performing general maintenance functions as required.
  • Staff has issued a request for proposal for a cleaning service for all of the CRAs. The goal is to proceed with one or more (if necessary) contracts to perform this.

The Recreation Advisory Committee is reviewing current rental rates, operating costs and the variety of fee schedules of the CRAs, to draft a policy and fee schedule that will be applied to all facilities, for Council’s consideration. The fee policy will also address requests for reduction and/or waiver of fees. Note that CRAs will not be required to pay facility use fees for CRA meetings and CRA events.

On the financial side, Staff completed a full analysis of the financial status of each CRA, including reviewing historical fundraising, operating costs, rental revenues and reserves which was presented to a recent meeting of CRA representatives. Good questions and discussion occurred at this meeting, resulting in a report and motion to Council, which it approved in March. As a result, the CRA accumulated deficits will be balanced from the Township Working Fund Reserve, Funds from fundraising by certain CRAs will be held in Township Reserves for future improvements/renovations and a surplus from baseball will be transferred to that organization. This positive analysis and exercise results in the Township CRAs being in a fair and understandable starting point for moving forward under this new structure and organization.

Turning to some Simcoe County matters…

Secondary Suites Funding

Simcoe County has relaunched its 2018 Secondary Suites funding program, providing $635,000 in additional funding to grow and expand this program. These County funds will complement $300,000 already dedicated through federal and provincial funds for creation of secondary and/or garden suites this year, bringing the total available funding close to $1 million for 2018. This program provides added incentive to homeowners to be part of the solution, while contributing to affordable housing goals across all our communities – particularly smaller or rural hamlets and villages where larger builds aren’t as feasible. The program provides financial support in the form of a forgivable loan, up to a maximum of $25,000, to create a secondary or garden suite. These new units will then be placed in the social housing rental system. Since 2014, 900 new affordable housing units have been created toward a target of creating 2,685 new units by 2024. To learn more visit www.simcoe.ca/ontariorenovates

2018 Skilled Trades Expo
Simcoe County is looking for local businesses, organizations and entrepreneurs from the skilled trades to participate as exhibitors in the 2018 edition of the Simcoe Muskoka Skilled Trades Expo, being held Thursday, May 17, 2018 at the Elmvale Community Arena. The 2018 event will feature two sessions: a student/school session for grades 7/8 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and a session geared for the general public from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. New this year, the evening event will feature a live Job Fair, which will provide participating businesses an opportunity to meet and interview skilled tradespeople during the event. It’s free to participate as an exhibitor and you can get on board by contacting the Simcoe economic development office at edo@simcoe.ca.