You may wonder how certain improvement projects around Town are given the green light. You may also wonder where the money comes from for improvements to Town Parks or other facilities (if you said tax dollars, you would be correct—partly). Below is the anatomy of how the new Outdoor Fitness Park was created and funded, and how the Vermilion Wellness Coalition hopes it will be the start of a trend in Vermilion.
In 2011, at one of their public monthly meetings, the Parks, Recreation & Culture Board (a group of 12 interested community members, 2 Council members, and 1 County Councillor) had expressed interest in adding a new amenity to our community. After researching the equipment, attending educational sessions about fitness parks, online research, and speaking with three other communities who had installed the equipment and made recommendations, the Director reported his findings to the Board. Among many others, the findings included:
• Equipment was used well used throughout the year (all seasons)
• Equipment is best placed near walking or running trails
• Having a number of smaller “pods” around the community may be preferable to one large site
• A number of surfaces can be considered (grass, rubber, sand, gravel)
• Equipment placed in more visible areas was more well used
Impressed with the findings, the Board approved the purchase of equipment in April of 2012. However, a site had not yet been determined. After considering many options (some of which will be used for the future), the Board agreed to start with a vastly underused green space with much potential for improvement, now known as our new Fitness Park. The proposed location was displayed at the Town Open House in June 2012. Feedback was positive. In September, 2012, the Board voted to install the park at that location, with the intention that this would be a first step from which to build, and add more “pods” in time.
What about the money, you ask? In the Municipal Budget, the total amount detailed for this park improvement was:
Exercise Equipment – $14,000 (2012)
Rubber Surfacing – $ 32,000 (2013)
Installation Costs – $ 7, 500 (2013)
Total ——————- $ 53,500
To help ease the burden, the Recreation Department applied for and received a grant for $16,000 from the Alberta Recycling Management Authority for rubber surfacing at the park. So:
$53,500 budgeted – $16,000 Grant = $37,500 from residents
Firstly, all budget items and projects are approved and authorized by Town Council. And—here comes the math—the required $37,500 for this project came from a Parks Development Reserve. Each year, a percentage of residents’ tax dollars in the Municipal Budget are allocated to Operations (for operating facilities, maintaining roads, etc) and Reserves (for Capital projects and future developments). The Recreation and Culture budget for 2013 was approved at $876,776, which equates to 17.6 % of the entire Municipal Budget. Annually, the Town allocates $10,000 from the Recreation budget to the previously mentioned Parks Development Reserve. Therefore, $10,000/$876,776, or 1.14% of the total Recreation budget was spent on park improvements, like the Fitness Park project, this year.
In real money terms, if your residential taxes this year were $3300, $587.40 (17.8%) went to Recreation and Culture, and $6.70 (1.14%) of that amount went to building the new Outdoor Fitness Park.*
Are the health and social benefits associated with modeling positive behaviors and being active in the community worth $6.70 to you this year? The Vermilion Wellness Coalition thinks so.
Get outside and use the equipment (or any of Vermilion’s other parks) when it is convenient for you, as part of your healthy, active lifestyle. Be a leader and demonstrate the value of regular exercise and being outdoors, and watch how that impacts the people around you. Be proud of your commitment to living well and congratulate yourself for growing your community!
* Financial information provided by the Town of Vermilion
Director of Community Services
Town of Vermilion