Faced with an impending inventory and infrastructure gap, the City of Coquitlam could be looking at some heavy financial lifting come this fall.
Representatives from the city's parks, recreation and culture department - along with finance staff - briefed council in committee Monday about the age and state of a number of pieces of exercise equipment that are nearing the end of their life cycles at the City Centre Aquatic Centre, Poirier Sport and Leisure Centre and Glen Pine Pavilion.
Focusing specifically on treadmills, exercise bikes, elliptical trainers and other strength conditioning machines, the presentation centred around the fact that about 130 pieces of equipment need to be replaced.
"If we don't replace our infrastructure in a timely manner, our repair bills will go up," said Joyce Fordyce, the city's manager of recreation. "So we're hoping that by coming up with a sustainable model, our repair bills will go down."
Parks and finances staff recommended the city put $103,000 annually into a fitness equipment replacement fund. Currently, $40,000 is earmarked for those expenses yearly, and staff proposed topping those funds up by another $63,000.
Where that money comes from, however, was a point of contention.
Some councillors argued the city has no business providing the services that are offered by the private sector.
"I think we've got to stop trying to be all things to all people," said Coun. Mae Reid. "We don't need to be in the fitness industry. If there's all kinds of businesses out there, let them do it."
The city's 132 pieces of fitness equipment are valued at about $790,000, and carry an average lifespan of seven years.
The use of that equipment brings in more than $650,000 in revenues yearly, with only $40,000 of those funds being dedicated to the equipment replacement reserve. The rest of that money helps offset other costs related to the operation of the city's recreation facilities.
"I'm much more likely to support a subsidy on some other aspect of our operation that isn't in direct competition with private organizations doing the same thing," said Mayor Richard Stewart. "I'm loathe to support a subsidy here, where it isn't needed because the operation generates-positive cash flow."
Coun. Terry O'Neill suggested private sector sponsorships, or even advertising at local rec centres to help supplement some of the needed funds. The topic of leasing out equipment - or entire rec centres - was also proposed by Coun. Lou Sekora.
"Run it like a business," Sekora said. "If it's making money, it should be [self sustaining] and we should have the money in there on a yearly basis to replace the equipment."
Monday's report to council in committee will be discussed further during budget talks this fall.