City council will decide Monday, Jan. 15, whether or not to include a potential fee for service for trail maintenance in the city’s next draft budget for the fiscal year 2021, according to staff familiar with the budget process.
The decision follows Grand Forks Community Trails Society Vice President Michelle Mallette’s presentation to the Committee of the Whole on Monday, Jan. 11, where Mallette suggested that council extend the city’s insurance policy to cover the society’s volunteer stewardship of trail networks within city limits. The society’s annual insurance costs jumped from around $500 in the year ending last October to more than $1,700, she told the committee.
Council then resolved at its regular meeting to consider entering into a fee for service agreement with the society. The fee would be treated as part of the society’s income, which Mallette said comes from members’ dues and grant money, most of which goes towards trail signage and maintenance. The society is insured for its upkeep along city sections of the Great Trail (formerly known as the Trans Canada) through the Government of British Columbia, she added.
City staff recommended that council consider the fee for service arrangement because the city’s insurance covers city employees and volunteers under the city’s direct supervision. This would not include the trails society, according to staff.
Mallette explained that the society bought its current insurance policy using its own funds last October. But the society’s increased insurance costs are not sustainable over the long-term. Having to forego insurance would mean the society would no longer be able to meet its stewardship agreement already in place with the city, she said.
“We feel really proud of the work that we’re doing and we’d like to continue doing that,” she told The Gazette.
Meanwhile, the city won’t finalize its spending commitments, covering a host of fees for services, until council approves a final budget in the spring. Mallette said the society’s executive board recently decided to raise members’ yearly dues from $5 per person and $10 per family to $15 and $25, with proceeds offsetting the society’s insurance.