by Phil Ambroziak

Recreational activities require a lot of hard work.

That’s why, during its regular meeting Feb. 26, Meadow Lake city council approved a motion directing administration to explore the options for having a recreation director/manager for the community. The motion also calls for administration to take into consideration budget impacts if such a role is created.

“Last fall, the city was approached by the Meadow Lake In Motion group with an inquiry about presenting to council on the subject of a recreation director position,” explained city clerk Jessica Walters.

Instead, the group met with the city’s recreation board Feb. 14. According to In Motion’s Bluesette Campbell, a recreation director was one of the needs identified by the community in a 2014 symposium hosted by her group. She said it’s become too much for volunteers to oversee major initiatives such as the development of a safe walking path between Meadow Lake and Flying Dust. She went on to say there are more than enough priorities for the city to focus on – including the new lodge, grandstand and more – to justify hiring someone full-time.

“Having someone in a paid position would also help fill any communication gaps,” Campbell said. “Things would be more coordinated in terms of not having so many events happening at the same time.”

Campbell also said volunteer committees, like In Motion, have accomplished a lot, but there is a risk of burnout and loss of momentum when this type of work is left entirely with volunteers. During Monday’s council meeting, councillor Conrad Read reiterated much of this, adding it’s time to have administration investigate the matter before council makes an official decision.

“I would echo what we’ve heard about the burnout,” stated councillor Glen Winkler. “Most volunteer efforts are based on the work of two or three people, but we should maximize those volunteers and support them so they don’t burn out so quickly.”

Winkler also believes, with a dedicated recreation director in place, it could encourage more people to come forward and volunteer their time knowing there is someone from the city available to provide guidance and support when needed. He also said grant opportunities could be available to help defer the cost of creating a new management position.

Deputy-mayor Merlin Seymour, meanwhile, suggested a recreation director could help generate funds for the city by finding ways to take full advantage of the municipality’s existing recreational facilities.

While the former Town of Meadow Lake did have a recreation director in the 1980s and 1990s, city manager Diana Burton said, if council does decide to pursue this matter, the role would not be filled overnight.

“Bringing in someone to fill a manager level position is going to take six to nine months at least,” she said. “It would require council to pre-approve funds for 2019, creating a job description, posting the job, conducting interviews and, still, there’s no guarantee someone local would apply. That means you also have to factor in the possibility of someone having to move here. It will take time.”

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