A new five-year recreation cost-sharing agreement with Rocky View County (RVC) will see a significant increase in the county's contribution towards the use of Cochrane recreation centres.

Mayor Jeff Genung says the town will initially receive about one-third more and that will nearly double over time.

The new agreement was approved this week by both the Cochrane and Rocky View councils after a joint committee began drafting the new agreement earlier this year.  

Up until this year, the county's contribution had a $200,000 cap, less an annual debenture payment of $40,980.

From 2023 to 2025, the county will contribute $100 per household for 3004 households, amounting to $300,400 annually. In 2023, RVC will deduct $40,980 for the final debenture payment.

From 2026 and 2027, the county will base its annual financial contribution on actual facility data and the percentage of county users in proportion to the town's annual financial contribution.

The agreement provides equal access and equal user fees for county residents. At any time, either party can request updated data.

Councillor Alex Reed, who represented the town for several years on the board of the Spray Lake Sawmills Recreation Park Society, was pleased with the result of the collaborative effort. 

"I think it speaks to the community regional approach to facilities that we're looking at and I think it's a good step, first step forward," said Reed.

Mayor Genung praises the reduction in red tape incorporated. No longer will the funding require an application process and instead be issued directly to the town, which will then add its payment and submit it to the Spray Lake Sawmills Recreation Park Society.

The agreement is strictly based on operating funds and does not include any capita costs. Neither operational nor capital funding for new projects is part of the agreement. Nor does it include capital funding requests, which the county will receive and consider separately.

Work will follow to draft a new ownership agreement within six months of signing the agreement and likely will include a discussion on capital and the upkeep of the facilities, said Stacey Loe, executive director of Cochrane Protective and Community Services.

"We anticipate that some of those discussions around capital life cycling and appropriate investment will encompass part of the discussion around the ownership agreement, so that is something that we will be entering into negotiations on next and I do anticipate that capital funding will form part of those discussions."

Phases 1 to 3 of the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre as well as the Cochrane Arena are jointly owned by the town and county.

In June 2021, Cochrane town council provide the county notice to terminate the existing agreements related to the ownership and operation of the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre (SLSFSC) and Cochrane Arena to trigger the negotiations. At the time, Mayor Jeff Genung said the county wasn't blindsided by the request, noting discussions had been underway for several months before providing the county with one-year notice of the agreement's termination.