Eager to wrap up in time for dinner, Revelstoke city council usually skims over the monthly statistical report breaking down pool attendance and revenues from the Revelstoke Aquatic Centre near the end of their meeting.
In the past, the report has usually been good news; generally increasing numbers since the centre opened in 2005. However, the report presented at the Mar. 22 meeting was cause for concern because it showed a consistent drop in numbers across almost all categories in the recent months.
The numbers seemed to be a worrying trend, considering the facility had racked up fairly consistent increases in numbers since it opened.
For example, February 2011 was a much slower month than February 2010.
Child visits plunged from 708 to 492. Teen and senior swims dropped from 370 to 263. Adult visits dipped from 2359 to 2155. Family swims lowered from 520 to 473. 1,391 passholder cards were scanned in 2011, down from 1,645 in the same 28-day period in 2010.
Some numbers were up. 81 punch cards were sold in February 2011, up from 72 in 2010. 32 pool passes were sold, over 23 in 2010.
Revelstoke Director of Parks, Recreation and Culture Kerry Dawson told council attendance at facilities like public swimming pools are cyclical, experiencing ebbs and flows.
She said many of the children from families who fought for the establishment of the pool had grown up and moved on, leaving a lull in their wake.
An upcoming meeting will try to turn the situation around. The focus will be on, “How do we get our locals back in?” Dawson said.
She noted some concerns about costs to families. “I have had indications from some families that it is costly to come,” Dawson said. She added, however, that prices are “fairly low” when compared to costs in other facilities in B.C. and Alberta.
Dawson also said the facility competes against other family recreation options for a slice of the family recreation budget. She said Revelstoke Mountain Resort, for example, was drawing users and their dollars away in the winter months.
Dawson told council she was preparing a report on the issue of hotel and motel passes. The program sees participating hotels and motels pay a flat fee of $1,300 annually for the right to issue free pool passes to their patrons. Campgrounds pay a $750 flat fee. Usage statistics are tracked. Dawson said statistics show hotel and motel guests pay an average of $2.86 per visit under the system. Campground users pay an average of $0.31. per visit “to get a shower and clean up.” Dawson said she was preparing a report for council on the system. “I think up until now it has been a marvellous program,” said Dawson, but she then noted recent criticism of the program during the city budget process.
Coun. Tony Scarcella defended the program. He oversees the Parks, Recreation and Culture portfolio for council. He said that hotel and motel owners had come “to rescue” the aquatic facility when it needed their support. They would need to be consulted about any changes to the hotel pass program. “That’s the way to do business,” Scarcella said.