(AEN) - The LRC has certainly exceeded the high expectations we had for it when we first dreamed about it and then built it. The LRC has put Leduc on the map and is the envy of every other municipality in Canada. The LRC has allowed our City to attract many events that have provided huge economic benefits to the City and to local businesses. The LRC has provided a desperately-needed facility for our community's minor sports and promoting fitness, as well as becoming a host site to many social functions.
But the LRC also has a cost to operate, and I want to provide my views on LRC sustainability.
When the Black gold centre was expanded and became the LRC, the new revenue from memberships, from lease income and from other rental income, basically offset the additional expenses relative to the expansion. This meant that the subsidy from the City to operate the LRC was basically unchanged from when it was the Black gold Centre. This was a big win for the City because we had so much more of a facility with no bigger net operating cost!
Since the LRC has been open, operating costs, wages etc have certainly gone up. But LRC memberships and other income have not increased by the same amount. The result has been an increasing operating deficit. The deficit would certainly have increased anyways over the years had it remained just the Black Gold centre, but certainly not by the same amount.
The costs of operating the LRC are not highly variable. Therefore the focus, in my opinion, needs to be on how we can increase revenue from the LRC through more memberships and other income. The best way to increase revenue is to increase memberships and we are working on a marketing plan to do just this.
One of the ways to encourage memberships is to look at ways to increase the benefits to members. The idea I have been promoting is to turn LRC membership cards into City-wide benefit cards. There are many businesses that benefit from the LRC and the special events and sports tournaments that we host. Providing discounts to LRC members might be a way to give back and support the City in its goals to make the LRC more sustainable. In addition, there are many organizations that the City subsidizes through grants, such as the MacLab Theatre and the Outdoor Pool who can perhaps provide discounts to LRC members. The MacLab theatre has already responded providing LRC members 2 for 1 tickets to most of their shows.
The LRC is a community service facility and will never achieve full cost recovery. But we need to be more aggressive and focused to find ways to minimize tax payer subsidy to this fantastic facility.