Logo of the Legislative Assembly

Hansard Blues

Select Standing Committee on

Finance and Government Services

Draft Report of Proceedings

2nd Session, 42nd Parliament
Wednesday, September 1, 2021

The committee met at 8:30 a.m.

[J. Routledge in the chair.]

J. Routledge (Chair): Good morning, everyone. My name is Janet Routledge. I am the MLA for Burnaby North and the Chair of the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services, a committee of the Legislative Assembly that includes MLAs from the government and opposition parties.

I would like to acknowledge that I'm joining today's meeting from the legislative precinct here in Victoria, which is located on the traditional territories of the Lək̓ʷəŋin̓əŋ-speaking people, now known as the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations.

I would also like to welcome everyone who is listening to and participating in today's meetings on the Budget 2022 consultation. Our committee has been meeting with a number of organizations this week to hear about priorities for the next provincial budget.

British Columbians are also able to share their views by making written comments or by filling out the online survey. Details are available on our website at bcleg.ca/fgsbudget. The deadline for all input is 5 p.m. on Thursday, September 30, 2021. We will carefully consider all input and make recommendations to the Legislative Assembly on what should be included in Budget 2022. The committee intends to release its report in November.

Public hearings this week are being held virtually, with most presenters organized into small panels based on theme and others making individual presentations. Today we'll be hearing about non-profits, tourism, sports, arts, culture and libraries.

Each presenter has five minutes for their presentation. To assist presenters, there is a timer available when in gallery view. Following presentations from the panel or following an individual presentation, there will be time for questions from the committee. At that time, I ask that members indicate they have a question, and we will keep a speaking list. I also ask that everyone please put themselves on mute and wait until you are recognized before speaking.

All audio from our meetings is broadcast live on our website, and a complete transcript will also be posted.

I'd now like the members of the committee to introduce themselves, starting with the Deputy Chair.

B. Stewart (Deputy Chair): Good morning.

Thank you very much, Chair.

My name is Ben Stewart. I represent Kelowna West and look forward to today's informative presentations.

L. Doerkson: Good morning. My name is Lorne Doerkson. I'm the MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin. I'm pleased to be here and looking forward to the presentations.

G. Kyllo: Good morning. My name is Greg Kyllo, MLA for Shuswap.

I come from the traditional territory of the Secwépemc-speaking peoples.

M. Dykeman: Hello. My name is Megan Dykeman. I am the MLA for Langley East.

It resides on the traditional territories of the Kwantlen, Katzie, Matsqui and Semiahmoo First Nations.

I'm looking forward to your presentations today.

H. Sandhu: Good morning. My name is Harwinder Sandhu, MLA for Vernon-Monashee.

We are located on the unceded and traditional territory of the Okanagan Indian Nations.

I look forward to your presentations.

P. Alexis: Good morning. My name is Pam Alexis, and I represent Abbotsford-Mission.

I come to you from the unceded and ancestral territory of the Stó:lō people.

I, too, look forward to hearing all about your organizations this morning.

M. Starchuk: I'm Mike Starchuk, MLA for Surrey-Cloverdale.

It is located on the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish, which includes the Katzie, Semiahmoo and Kwantlen.

[8:35 a.m.]

J. Routledge (Chair): Thank you, everyone.

I'd also like to introduce those who are assisting us today. Jennifer Arril, Mai Nguyen and Jesse Gordon from the Parliamentary Committees Office and Billy Young from Hansard Services are working hard behind the scenes to make this run smoothly. I thank them for that.

Shall we proceed with our first presentation? Our first presentation is a panel representing non-profit attractions, and our first presenter is Tracy Calogheros.

Budget Consultation Presentations
Panel 1 – Non-Profit Attractions


T. Calogheros: Well, good morning, everyone, and thank you very much for having us all here today. I am the CEO for the Exploration Place, in what is today known as Prince George, and we are operating on the traditional and unceded territories of our friends, the Lheidli T'enneh Nation.

You'll hear from my other colleagues today, and we've sort of split up some of our areas of expression. The written submission that you've received is excellent and comprehensive. We're happy to answer questions for that as well as to our individual presentations today.

For a change, I actually have notes, so I'll be looking up and down, which is not customary for me. We'll see how this goes.

I think it's important to recognize right off the bat that cultural facilities have a huge impact on all of their communities, and it is disproportionately large in rural British Columbia and, indeed, all across Canada. Because we are that community forum, that kitchen table where people come together to have conversations about local issues as well as provincial, regional, national and international issues, we create that safe place that is inclusive and inviting and is a trusted place for people to come and spend their time with their families and, really, at all ages.

One of the things that's important to recognize as well is that there are cultural facilities in virtually every community across this province, regardless of size, and that we bring equity of access to cultural products, materials and interpretation by having these institutions embedded in communities right across the province. We are centres of cultural reclamation for Indigenous nations.

We're excellent partners for repatriation, early learning and community education. The work that we do with our Indigenous partners has been rooted in consultation since long before that became a term that people were bandying about in every forum out there. The consultation that we do has resulted in not only a variety of extensive programming but in real, measurable results in early learning and in engagement in Indigenous populations in the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering, arts and math — as well as in reclamation of material culture.

My own institution is a designated repository for the Lheidli T'enneh Nation, and we hold their material culture through a memorandum of understanding that is unique in the country. That's something that British Columbia should be very proud of, and it's something that is largely unfunded work.

We are trusted sources. There was a lot of discussion during this pandemic around disinformation, and our network was instrumental in the ScienceUpFirst push to combat disinformation online, led out of the Canadian Senate. When you look to the Toronto Star's experience from the early 2000s, there were over two years to return to regular visitation, and that impact is likely to be even more widely felt as we come out of the coronavirus pandemic. We're nowhere near out of it yet, and our institutions are some of the ones that have been most impacted.

We definitely are going to need help with capital upgrades to HVAC and curatorial changes to address the impacts of the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as the need for increased ventilation. When you're talking about a museum institution, where it is a class A facility, something like mine, we got hammered on both sides. We are not only a class A museum; we are also a science centre. I have hands-on interpretation for young children and a completely restricted ventilation and humidity control system. That is like operating the starship Enterprise with a contagious variant on board.

[8:40 a.m.]

We're going to need assistance to be able to deal with those if we're ever going to be able to have full visitation at the levels that they were pre-pandemic. Given that our institutions are known for being entrepreneurial, that impact on our earned revenue streams is quite literally insurmountable without assistance on a long-term basis.

The Exploration Place has always performed a provincial museum function. We're an archaeological repository, an Indigenous repository and a paleontological repository. The archaeological materials and the paleo materials are actually provincial property, and us acting as that repository is largely unfunded. The only provincial money that we receive is roughly 5 percent of our operating budget, and that comes through gaming and through the B.C. Arts Council.

We're looking for predictable multi-year commitments that are proven. We've shown that we are trustworthy and that we know how to handle the taxpayers' dollars, and we are able to stretch a dollar further than most other government suppliers, I would argue. The difficulty is that if we're going to continue to do this public work, we need that funding, and we need to know that it's coming.

Chasing grants leads to mission drift and to staff burnout, and like all industries, our entire staff is facing burnout, right across this province. We really need the government to be a partner in helping us to achieve what we can achieve on behalf of British Columbians.

J. Routledge (Chair): Thank you, Tracy.

Next we'll hear from Nicholas Cartmell, B.C. Sports Hall of Fame.


N. Cartmell: Hi, everybody. I'm Nicholas Cartmell, of course, the CEO of the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame. This is my first presentation to the committee of the Legislature, and I'm honoured to be here with you today.

I'm also honoured and grateful to be joining you from the traditional lands of the Katzie, Semiahmoo and Kwantlen First Nations.

I really acknowledge all of the work that you're doing and that the work that we do goes beyond the places that we live, work and play.

As a group of non-profit educational and science-based institutions, we're really invested in sharing the stories of our history and inspiring the future of our province. You of course recognize a number of our institutions. You've probably visited many of them with your families. While they may appear to focus on different themes, what really unites us is our connection to our communities and understanding our past and interpreting our present and really charting a course for the future.

Beyond the role that we play in making B.C. a really desirable destination for visitors, we do play a role as educators of youth and families. We're strong local employers. We're of course a catalyst for truth and reconciliation in responding to the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We're also nurturers of training and skills development for the jobs of tomorrow.

A number of our institutions had really weathered very steep revenue declines through the pandemic, between 50 and 83 percent from pre-pandemic levels, and annual visit declines between 49 and up to 99 percent. We're not expecting a lot of those numbers to be recovering for quite some time. It's only exacerbated the needs of our organizations, both on an operating and capital investment level.

While government has done its job in terms of providing support to our institutions from all levels, there is definitely a need to reduce the administrative burden placed on these organizations in applying for funding from different places in different baskets and just moving strategically to a more streamlined and stable funding model that allows the recipient institutions to do the work that they do best.

For our attractions and others to continue providing high-quality programing to students and teachers across the province, we actually need long-term support from government in three areas. The first I touched on earlier in terms of sustainable core funding. The second is funding for specialized programs, and the third, very importantly, is addressing the deficit on infrastructure — infrastructure renewal and capital investment.

Many arts and cultural and science centres within Canada and globally are partially or substantially funded by provincial, local and federal governments. In the case of science centres, for example, governments fund 49 percent of all Canadian science centres, and in Ontario, the average is about 45 percent. In British Columbia, those institutions receive between 2 and 10 percent of their funding from government sources.

[8:45 a.m.]

Not only will core funding provide stability and planning for leveraging additional funding from donors in other levels of government; it's also a more efficient way for both government and the institutions to achieve distribution and funding, respectively.

Seven of the 94 Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action are focused on education, and another call recognizes the importance of telling stories of Indigenous athletes in history.

We, of course, at the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame have worked tirelessly to build what is the largest Indigenous sport gallery in the world, recognizing the contributions of Indigenous coaches and athletes in our sport history and our culture overall.

Our organization has worked directly with educators on curating visits and lesson plans that embrace First Nation, Métis and Inuit world views and perspectives in the classroom, both online and in person, and increases in funding would allow our organizations to better invest in museum education and promote deeper partnerships with First Nation, Métis and Inuit peoples and reconciliation.

With that, I'll pause and just reflect that we definitely take the responsibility seriously in terms of fulfilling both the mandates of our institutions and our commitment to society overall — and the mandate of government.

I thank you for your time.

J. Routledge (Chair): And thank you for yours.

Next we will hear from Tracy Redies, Science World.


T. Redies: Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

Thank you to the members of the standing committee for meeting with us today. It's nice to see some familiar faces, including staff.

As the Chair said, I'm Tracy Redies. I'm the president and CEO of Science World. We're an institution that's focused on bringing STEAM learning to British Columbians all across the province. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and design, and math.

I'd like to, first, gratefully acknowledge, also, that Science World is located on the traditional, unceded Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh village of the Sen̓áḵw.

I'd also like to thank you on behalf of Science World for the recent grants under the B.C. MAP program. This funding is going to go towards some vital programming that will help our institution significantly.

I'd like to speak now to the third ask we have of government, and that's with respect to the need for infrastructure funding, specifically $150 million over three years. This infrastructure funding is essential to repair aging infrastructure, leverage new technologies and expand our physical and digital footprints.

The pandemic, as you know, has decimated earnings, and millions of dollars that might have been used for reinvestment in our institutions in these areas is now no longer available to address even crucial deferred maintenance. Science World, for example, has not re-skinned its dome since it was first built. It's leaking and currently closed to the public. The IMAX technology that we have in the building is also from 1986, and while many on this Zoom call might look fondly back on Expo 86, I can tell you technology from 1986 is not a good thing.

Re-skinning the dome and replacing the technology will cost probably in the order of $20 million. The re-skin alone will probably cost between $12 million and $15 million, so it's really important that we get support from government, because it's going to be — as my colleague Nicholas Cartmell said — a long time before we will be able to produce enough reserves ourselves to implement this technology and re-skin the dome. In fact, we could actually have to close the dome completely.

Infrastructure funding is also important to help create jobs and the get the tourism sector back on track. We compete globally for tourism dollars, and it's important that we have first-class institutions.

The other more important thing is that B.C. is facing a severe skill shortage in the coming decade, as much as 70,000 workers by 2030, as baby boomers retire in large numbers, and 77 percent of those available jobs will require post-secondary education. For example, nurses: 40 percent of nurses are eligible for retirement in the coming decade, with 65 percent of all health sciences job areas now reporting skill shortages today.

In addition, according to 2021 statistics from the B.C. Construction Association, over 11,000 construction jobs will be unfilled by the province by 2030 due to labour shortages.

[8:50 a.m.]

Yesterday I believe you heard from the universities about the importance of public education. Well, our institutions are at the start of that education continuum. Our institutions are vital to building the talent pipeline, whether that's inspiring future nurses or tradespeople or artists or engineers.

Studies have shown that the positive impact on students who are engaged in informal STEAM education, such as learning in science centres…. This has a really important impact on them choosing STEAM careers in their futures. Again, with the province, I think quite rightly, focused on creating knowledge-intensive innovation in B.C. for the jobs of the future, it's really important that science centres be supported.

More importantly, this allows us to continue to be community forums for local visitors and our members. We can continue to be those trusted places, and we can also, importantly, with our programming, reach all corners of the province, especially underrepresented groups like women, Indigenous, LGBTQ and people with diverse abilities.

I'd like to make two final points. Often, science organizations can't access government funding artificially, because we typically do not curate collections. This prevents us from accessing funding programs like the B.C. Arts Council or Heritage Canada or Canada Council for the Arts, despite the integration of arts into many of programs. Likewise, museum institutions can't access funding as non-science-based institutions, so it's really important that government looks at our group holistically from a funding perspective.

Finally, I'd like to say, too, that we'd like to work with government on a multi-year plan for our industry. We think it's really important to help government to achieve its objectives but also, again, to provide that long-term support for our sector. I'd like to thank you for your time, and we'd now be very happy to take questions.

J. Routledge (Chair): Thank you, Tracy. And Raylene Marchand is also going to be speaking?

T. Redies: Madam Chair, Raylene will not be speaking. She's actually in Nova Scotia. Her Internet connection is not that strong, but she will take questions, if her Internet allows it.

J. Routledge (Chair): Okay. So that's what the checkmark beside her name means.

We're ready to open it up for questions and discussion.

M. Dykeman: Thank you very much for all of your presentations today. They were really interesting. I know those are attractions that myself and my family and children have enjoyed visiting. So it was great to hear your thoughts and how you have been able to work through the pandemic and how challenging that has been for your organizations.

Tracy, you mentioned that you would like to work with government to come up with some ideas to market future planning. Have you put that idea forward? Do you have a vision of what that would look like?

T. Redies: Thank you very much, MLA Dykeman.

We're just starting those conversations. We've had many conversations with multiple industries over the last year — tourism, especially. The tourism industry has been, in particular, very kind and supportive of our industry. What we think, actually, now is that we need kind of a cross-functional approach with education — probably the ministry of jobs, technology and trade and also the Ministry of Education.

We don't really fit in one particular area. We're educational organizations, which is at the heart of what we do, but we're also tourism attractions in many of our locations. So we don't fit into a natural bucket, and that's why we asked for our sector to be looked at holistically. Ideally, it would come through some form of core funding, long-term funding, through Education, as a recognition of the importance of our institutions in public education. We're a very important part of that continuum.

We still need to have that kind of a discussion, and it's a little bit difficult because of the way government is structured in the various ministries, which is the way it's worked for many years.

P. Alexis: I'm just wondering how you managed through COVID. Did you continue programming? Did you move online to reach your audiences? Can you tell me a little bit about that experience and what you learned and what you might keep, moving forward? Anybody want to jump in on that? I'd love to hear.

T. Redies: Maybe I'll start first. In Science World's case, we had to flip it completely to online, because we really weren't using it. Our purpose is to scale STEAM literacy, so this made real sense. I'm really proud of the fact that….

[8:55 a.m.]

First, in 2019, we had about one million visitors interact with Science World — about 900,000 coming to the dome, and then about 140,000 outreach to students, including 5,000 or 6,000 teachers across the province.

This year, because of our pivot to digital, we will reach over three million people in the province. I'm really proud of that, because it also includes a lot of young women, Indigenous communities, remote communities and people who, typically, we haven't been able to interact with before. So we will continue that. I have said to our organization that we are going to be an omni-channel organization, leveraging all out channels to bring STEAM literacy to children and young adults across the province.

P. Alexis: That's amazing. Thank you.

Anybody else want to chime in?

N. Cartmell: I'm Nicholas, and I just wanted to say that we actually hosted our first online induction of a class of 2020 for our B.C. Sports Hall of Fame. There were some practices and some things that we did really well in partnership with our broadcast partner at Global B.C. that managed to broaden the reach of that activity to other corners of the province. So those are some things that will definitely continue on.

In terms of fundraising multiples, in a virtual medium versus a physical medium, I think there's definitely a hunger to come back and gather together again. Certainly, we see a difference in the amount of fundraising we're able to do through digital mediums, but there are some things in terms of constituent relationship management that we're doing better, and we're getting our legs under us to do a little bit better so that we're communicating more frequently with the people that we reach across the province.

In terms of our online education programs, last year was definitely problematic, I think, because a lot of classrooms were adjusting to that hybrid model and the number of presentations that we were able to deliver actually decreased. But then the number of places that we were able to reach outside of the Lower Mainland actually increased. So there's definitely a model in terms of our Hero In You youth education program, where we pair our honoured members and their stories with classrooms, that we'll continue to do in an online format, but we'll definitely be looking at ways that we can reintroduce the in-person education, as well.

Thanks for the question there. That was fantastic.

T. Calogheros: I'd just like to add that I echo what my colleagues are saying about the online program. We definitely pivoted to delivering across northern British Columbia.

We operate as the northern provincial museum. One of the things that we felt was really important was to preserve access to our over a million images and documents and 350,000 artifacts. We purchased a new online database to update our existing proprietary database that hadn't been looked at since about 1996 and launched the new database early at the beginning of this year.

We've done everything we can do while our buildings are physically shuttered to be able to continue to provide access to British Columbians to all of our collections and our programming. The key piece of that is that it was really unplanned, as everything else was going into this pandemic, and largely unfunded.

P. Alexis: Just fabulous stories. Thank you so much for sharing.

H. Sandhu: Thank you to the presenters.

I just have a question for Tracy. Maybe both Tracys can answer. When it comes to Science World, was there a decline in membership? I know that you have annual and three years. I used to purchase that. Whenever I took my kids there, besides fun, it was always learning, even for me, at times, too.

I was often wondering if there is a drastic decline during COVID in people buying membership. If there was, how did you manage? If there is uptake again, if you can please elaborate on that.

T. Redies: Thank you very much for your question, MLA Sandhu.

Yes, we have had a decline in membership. Notwithstanding the fact that the studies show that if a museum has less than 30 percent of people in its buildings, it's as safe as outside, there's obviously been a concern about coming back indoors. So we have lost membership. I don't have the exact numbers in front of us, but it's significant. Again, what we saw through the pandemic is that our attendance levels fell by, in some cases, 90 percent.

[9:00 a.m.]

We chose to stay open from August onwards. I wanted to try and keep people, as much as we could, employed but also make sure that parents like yourself had places to go. In terms of what we're going to do going forward, it's a focus of ours. We're actually putting together a strategy on rebuilding membership.

If I may do just a little plug for Science World, we have a fabulous exhibit coming in February called T. Rex: The Ultimate Predator, which will be the first time it's in Canada, and that's coming in February. So we hope to sell many memberships and see many more attendees with that.

Thank you.

T. Calogheros: I can tell you that for us up at the Exploration Place, we shuttered our building on March 13, 2020, and have not physically reopened. So we haven't sold a single membership since we shut down and, in fact, have had to refund several. The promise I have made to those members that have stood with us is that we will extend their memberships upon our reopening, currently scheduled for January of 2021.

We've taken this time to do a complete revisit of not just our HVAC systems, ventilation in particular, but also our curatorial practices, with an eye to the social developments over the last 18 months, where we have learned that we have missed the boat on some things. So we're hopeful that our memberships will pick up again, but as it stands right now, what used to be ten percent of our annual operating budget has been zero and, in fact, has been a loss.

H. Sandhu: Thank you so much for sharing. We have a little branch in Vernon, Science Centre. I often think about, "How do they.…?" It did generate quite a bit of revenue. For parents, I really appreciate how all of you came up with creative ways of changing some programs to online learning, and I appreciate all that you've done during COVID and are still doing.

B. Stewart (Deputy Chair): Thanks very much for the presentations, everybody.

I guess that when I look at what is one of the big requests about the maintenance and repairs, etc., it's $150 million. Now, I can't imagine that that all happened just because of COVID. It was something that was accumulating — the skin on the Science World dome. And I don't know about the H.R. MacMillan facility. But I think, probably, you did mention something that was important. You don't have access to B.C. Arts Council or these other groups that can attract funding, etc.

Can you describe what the public's…? Like, I know you're not for profit, but who owns the land underneath Vanier Park, where H.R. MacMillan is, or Science World and those types of things? Did you get government support? Are you expected to just kind of operate as a not-for-profit? And these maintenance issues are something that…. How are they planned in terms of your long-term survivability? In terms of had COVID never happened, how would we normally have helped you, or what would have been done? What's the past history like?

T. Redies: Maybe I'll start. Prior to 2020, less than two percent of our funding was coming from government sources. We received a little bit from the city, but mostly, through the provincial government, it was a gaming grant.

All of the institutions, I think, have different lease situations. For example, the land that Science World sits on is City of Vancouver land, but our head lease is with the province. The city leases the land to the province. The province leases to us. We're towards, I guess, two-thirds of the first 50-year lease, and then we have another 50 years after that.

To be honest, we did have funding a long time ago from the provincial government, but that ran out, I think, in 2011, 2012. In dealing with infrastructure issues, it's been mostly us having to try and do it on our own. It's arguable as to whether or not we've been successful enough. We've been able to fix some things through our own performance and with fundraising from donors, but the reality is that the things that I'm talking about are really big-ticket items. It's a small market in Vancouver. We're all going after the same donors. It's been a very challenging year for a lot of different organizations, and I would imagine that some of the donors are tapped out.

[9:05 a.m.]

If the government really believes in driving innovation, it's really important that they fund arts and science centres. We believe really strongly that it's the intersection of technical skills with the arts that produces innovation. We are, again, an integral part of the economic aspirations, social aspirations, of this government. We want to play that part, but we're going to be challenged to do so in the current circumstances.

Thank you for the question.

Any of my other colleagues want to tell their position? We're all different.

N. Cartmell: I think Raylene has provided some comments in the chat there. So has Tracy as well. I'll just speak on behalf of the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame.

We moved in to B.C. Place Stadium in 1996. We have been a tenant since that time. We certainly do benefit from the infrastructure that B.C. Pavilion Corp. does share. We do pay rent to the facility. But certainly over time, as a non-profit, we definitely focus and do well in terms of our programming delivery. We probably don't do as well in terms of really focusing on some of those larger capital items and public infrastructure — things that are public good — in terms of improving our facilities and the museum itself.

We do well just focused, in terms of our gallery. The Indigenous Sport Gallery has certainly attracted a lot of energy. But some of the older galleries, such as our Terry Fox gallery or even our youth participation zone, are in desperate need of an injection of capital to be able to move forward.

What I'll just say is that as we've been weathering the pandemic, we've been focused on just maintaining operations and employment and programming and certainly have done so at the expense of the capital deficit that we've accumulated over time.

T. Redies: I would just add that for….

J. Routledge (Chair): Just before you go ahead, Tracy. Following that, my colleague here is going to read Raylene's comments in chat into the record so that they're on the record.

J. Arril (Clerk of Committees): Raylene Marchand, from H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, noted that her microphone is not working. So I'm just going to read her comments into the record. These comments are on behalf of Raylene Marchand from the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre. She says:

"I echo my colleagues' comments on all questions. We, too, have adjusted to online programs and continue to work with partners on new programming. We all have similar experiences in terms of programming and memberships, admissions and funding."

Then she further adds:

"H.R. MacMillan Space Centre is a non-profit organization, and our building is on federal land, sublet by the city. The city owns our building, but we are responsible for our own capital upgrades. Much like Science World, we have to upgrade technology in our planetarium feeder and other areas. I agree with Tracy Redies on comments regarding funding and how it is working now."

Tracy Calogheros, perhaps you could read your comments into the record, and Tracy Redies as well, and I will leave it there.

T. Calogheros: Sure thing. Essentially, we are an independent charity. We have a similar situation in that the regional district owns our building, but we are responsible for amortization and for any sort of capital upgrades.

We were not planning any significant capital upgrades to the envelope or to the HVAC systems prior to COVID, and the infrastructure grants that we have submitted — and, unfortunately, been denied on both — were all focused on spacing, crowd control, touchless access and ventilation for the HVAC system. It really was capital improvements that came as a result of the COVID pandemic and our intention to be able to mitigate those impacts to our visitation post-pandemic.

T. Redies: I just wanted to add that, of course, Science World is also a non-profit. Again, just some numbers. I think you know that I like numbers.

[9:10 a.m.]

In 2019, which was one of our best years…. If we were to get 2019 performance through the next 20 years, we still probably wouldn't have enough to fix the dome or replace the technology in it. I don't think, personally, based on what I've seen in the back of the dome, with the various buckets that we have there taking rain, that it has 20 years.

Again — my old colleagues know that I never blow smoke — this is really a serious situation. It's a situation that most of our institutions find themselves in — aging infrastructure, obsolete technology and really unable to compete or, in many respects, deliver the full programming and opportunities that they could for British Columbian children with the right infrastructure.

L. Doerkson: Good morning, everybody. Thank you for the presentations. I just wanted to clear up, first off….

Tracy, in Prince George, did you say you're not open until January…? I was confused. You said January 2021. Did you mean 2022?

T. Calogheros: Yes, 2022. You're right. I'm losing track of days and years. This pandemic is rough. Sorry.

L. Doerkson: Okay, no problem. It has been a long one for all of us. That's for sure. I just wanted to clarify that.

I've been to all of your facilities. I've taken my children to your facilities, and I'm sure that I'll take my grandchildren to your facilities, including yours in Prince George, Tracy. It's amazing. We definitely are glad to have the reopening of all these facilities, of course. My question, I suppose, may not affect Prince George in the same way as the rest of you in the Lower Mainland. What percentage of your visitors are international travellers?

I certainly commend…. To be able to reach, during these times, three million British Columbians, Tracy…. I mean, you should have a gold star for that. That's an amazing achievement. How will international travel affect you in the coming months? I'm also interested in what the uptake has been now that we're sort of moving to a new time in this pandemic. Are visitors more than average? Are they higher than average? Those types of things.

T. Redies: Well, thanks very much for the question, MLA Doerkson.

In terms of international visitors, this is another area where we need technology upgrades. We actually don't know who are international visitors and who are domestic visitors. We are seeing a slight uptick during the month of August. We are guesstimating it's about 20 percent of our total numbers, but we really don't know. We need to invest in data analytics to be able to accurately give you that information.

What I will say is that since the increased reopening…. I would say, too, that at Science World we've always required people to wear masks. We required people to wear masks during the summer because of just having so many visitors under 12. We've kept our capacity at 2,000 — again, to make sure things were safe. In the months of July and August, we're getting close to 2,000, but that's only about 30 percent of our total capacity. It's a combination, I think, of lower attendance and also of keeping it safe for our visitors.

T. Calogheros: I can tell you, from the Prince George perspective, that about 15 percent of our overall annual attendance is international, largely rubber-tire tours coming up from the U.S. These are fully independent travellers, travelling on their own, and they're all stopping in Prince George. I mean, if you're going to Alaska, you're coming through Prince George. Our operation really does function as an informal visitor information centre.

The post-pandemic projections are that Americans will continue to travel into Canada. They're coming to Alaska primarily through British Columbia, and it's our institutions that they're looking to, to solve that.

N. Cartmell: I'll just speak on behalf of the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame. Certainly, a lot of our international tourists that we do receive are water-based. They come in on the cruise ships. We certainly do see an influx of guests when those cruise ships come in to our destination.

[9:15 a.m.]

We work and co-market with Destination Vancouver and make sure that we're attracting a share of those visitors. In terms of putting a precise number on that, I'm in Tracy Redies's boat at Science World. We're just starting to develop the data around that, with our ticketing systems, to be able to get that. My staff estimates that about one-quarter to one-third of our foot traffic is actually international within our museum.

L. Doerkson: Just one last question for Tracy Redies. With respect to IMAX, you mentioned 1986. I can't believe that it's that old, to be honest. I graduated in '86 and saw IMAX in '86. What is the future for that technology?

T. Redies: Well, there's no future for the 1986 technology. IMAX does continue to sell, but I think we're looking at different technologies. LED technologies look very interesting and may be more cost-effective, ultimately. But if you've seen some of these latest shows — for example, the Van Gogh show on at the convention centre — there's some interesting technology with that that we'd certainly love to be able to do with the dome.

Of course, the challenge with all technology is that it does become obsolete. We've certainly sweated the asset of the IMAX technology that we've had. Actually, there aren't people who can run it anymore. That's how old this is. It's a bit embarrassing. Unfortunately, again, you have to make choices about where you put money. That was not the place that we put it, but we do need to now.

Unfortunately — I'm sorry to belabour this — we can't put in any new technology until we reskin the dome. Because of the leaking, it would damage the technology, so we've got to reskin the dome and then put in the new technology. Thanks for the question. It's probably more than you wanted to know about IMAX.

L. Doerkson: No, that's exactly what I wanted to know. Thank you very much for it.

J. Arril (Clerk of Committees): I'll just read into the record Raylene Marchand's response with respect to international visitation. She said: "For the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, our international visitation is approximately 10 percent. The largest portion is in the summer months. Summer has improved. We are at approximately 30 percent of pre-pandemic admissions. That does need to improve."

She agrees with Tracy Redies on technology improvements over the years and what is now out there and available. "Full dome video is part of our current offer, and there are improvements as technology changes."

J. Routledge (Chair): Okay. I'm not seeing more questions. We do have to wrap it up. We've got another panel waiting.

I do want to thank you for taking the time to give us some insight into the important role that you play in our society, in our economy and the challenges that you face. As I was listening to your presentations and the dialogue as a result of the questions, it really struck me — as the economy started slowly opening up after the first wave of the pandemic — that you were a lifeline.

Institutions like yours were a lifeline. You were a lifeline to my family. It was a way that we could actually venture back out into the world together and feel safe and engaged. It certainly stimulated young children in my family who were going a bit crazy. Even for my book club, it was a way that we chose to meet. You play an important role. Thank you so much for your time.

Okay, we'll take a recess until 9:25 a.m.

The committee recessed from 9:19 a.m. to 9:26 a.m.

[J. Routledge in the chair.]

J. Routledge (Chair): Our next panel is on sports, and our first presenter is Allan Prazsky.

Budget Consultation Presentations
Panel 2 – Sport


A. Prazsky: Thank you. Good morning, everyone. My name is Allan Prazsky. I am the executive director of Triathlon B.C., a not-for-profit organization that delivers multisport programs across the province, though today I'm grateful that I'm able to work and play from the unceded territories of the Coast Salish, Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish Nations.

As one of 70 accredited provincial sport organizations representing some 800,000 participants through a network of over 4,000 community-based organizations, we are recognized by our national federations as the governing bodies for sport. We lead, develop and promote sport across B.C. and ensure quality experiences for hundreds of thousands of participants, athletes, coaches, officials and volunteers that engage in organized sport every year.

I'm also fiercely proud that this same network of professionals has helped to develop close to 200 B.C.-based athletes that represented Canada at the Tokyo Olympic Games — the largest representation from our province at the Olympics, winning an impressive 50 percent of Canada's medals. These medal-winning champions play a critical role in elevating our youth sport programs through the simple adage of motivation through mentorship. Affiliated clubs that belong to provincial sport organizations and events that are sanctioned by these groups are committed to ensuring the standards of safety and that quality sport is experienced by every participant.

As is the case with all provincial sport organizations, our programs and events are a catalyst for improved mental and physical well-being and a connector in communities, creating jobs and providing significant economic impact, generating some $1.4 billion annually through sport tourism. Like many of my colleagues that will be presenting throughout the day and the coming weeks, each of you will hear the important impacts sport has made to individuals and communities throughout B.C. and why an additional investment of $12 million in sport and physical literacy matters now, more than ever before.

Today we're focusing on the importance of this investment, which will lead to increased physical activity and greater community safety and ethics, ensuring more British Columbians are inspired and can truly benefit from being active for life, allowing us to deliver on the priorities outlined in B.C.'s Pathways to Sport.

From a December 2020 survey conducted provincially by Vancouver's Insights West group, 90 percent agree that sport has a positive impact on its participants, and 85 percent felt that organized sport has a strong, positive impact on communities in which they live. This richness of experience is grounded in respect and safety and extends to maintaining that sport is free from all physical, mental, emotional and psychological harm. Safe sport also encompasses injury prevention, concussion management and protection against maltreatment and mental health.

[9:30 a.m.]

As the province's population ages, older adults are expected to represent 25 percent of B.C.'s population by 2041. Of those, 30 percent of men and close to 50 percent of women between the ages of 64 and 74 are considered to be inactive. With a large demographic of 55-plus participants, provincial sport organizations remain committed to delivering safe and ethical programs to this growing sector, increasing the motivation, confidence and physical competence, and nurturing and developing an understanding of the value that sport and physical activities add to life.

With the additional investment, we can make a meaningful impact to help address regional disparities, as outlined in the same research that showed 50 percent of the respondents have indicated that it's difficult for themselves or for their children to enrol in organized sport programs throughout northern British Columbia.

With the devastation that COVID has brought to sport — where many provincial sport organizations are reporting a drop of over 60 percent in membership and over 50 percent reported the need to lay off or reduce hours — the additional $12 million investment will help us rebuild sport; champion reconciliation through sport; strengthen the resiliency to ensure B.C.'s sport system is strong and sustainable moving forward; expand reach so that more British Columbians are inspired and can benefit from sport and physical activity; and elevate excellence so that provincial sport organizations can showcase greater accessibility in sport and so that we're well equipped to deliver safe, affordable, inclusive and high-quality sport experiences across the province.

Whether you're a casual weekend participant or chasing the Olympic or Paralympic podium, for sport experiences to be positive, they need to be safe. Safe sport matters.

We appreciate the contribution government has made to position B.C. as a leader in physical literacy and sport programming in Canada. On behalf of the 70 provincial sport organizations and our 800,000 participants, thank you for recognizing the critical role sport has and continues to play in communities across B.C. Thank you for considering this request for new investment in sport and physical activity.

J. Routledge (Chair): Thank you, Allan.

Next we'll hear from Jason Elligott.


J. Elligott: Nice job, Allan.

Good morning, everybody. My name is Jason Elligott.

I'd personally like to acknowledge my participation from the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, respecting their rights, cultures and traditions.

I'd like to thank you for allowing me to present today as part of a wider sports sector presentation and representing the largest provincial sport organization in British Columbia, B.C. Soccer. I'm the executive director. Our organization has benefited greatly from government support over the years, and we want to thank you for that.

In any given year, we have a total of around 115,000 registered youth and adult participants. When you add in coaches, managers, referees and administrators, the reach of soccer grows quite a bit. We estimate that soccer touches anywhere from a quarter of a million to 300,000 households in British Columbia on an annual basis.

While B.C. Soccer has large reach across B.C., programming is delivered locally, mostly by volunteers, through clubs and leagues, which can pose challenges. An investment in more local training and education will ensure that everyone involved in soccer has a positive experience. Ensuring everyone understands the standards and reports those negative ones correctly will benefit all.

In our current strategic plan, we have objectives to help create an environment where soccer provides a positive experience for everyone involved — not just players but everyone around the sport. It's a big ask, but we think it's so important that everyone has a positive experience from playing soccer.

Like all sports, we rely largely on volunteers to support our sport. In some cases, they don't necessarily have the tools required to know the difference between positive and negative standards and what they look like. We're doing the best that we can through education and training to help them, but there are always things that we can do to improve.

This ties directly to our safe sport commitment. We're committed to safe and respectful soccer in British Columbia, and B.C. Soccer can't do it alone. It requires buy-in and support from everyone.

It has been challenging to create an overarching climate where accountability is managed and reported independently. We would very much like to see complete independence for the handling of non-sport-related issues, which include abuse and maltreatment. In order to do this properly, sport requires increased investment and, more importantly, a coordinated approach shared among the sports sector, ensuring every athlete can expect safe and inclusive environments.

A great example is a blog published in 2019 by an ex-professional and national team female soccer player. She witnessed some very troubling behaviour from a coach, who has since been charged. These events took place 15 years ago.

[9:35 a.m.]

In 2019, B.C. Soccer immediately sought third-party expertise to help examine our policies and procedures, but at every level, there were gaps that led to public misconceptions and inaccurate blame on our association, even though we didn't have jurisdiction.

The fallout from that moment, arguably, was that a good portion of a generation of female players who would have carried on with the sport and become mentors for young female players by and large left the game feeling very negative about their experience. That cost us what could have been a fine group of highly experienced coaches and mentors and leaders for the next generation. The positive that came out of it was wider awareness. In our case, we took conscious action to help improve.

Safe sport, to us, is not just about understanding the science behind and sharing best practice with concussion, injury management and prevention, dealing with extreme heat, air quality guidance. It's also about creating safe and ethical soccer environments that welcome anyone and everyone and then valuing those participants equally. On a holistic level, yes, our immediate instinct when we think about safe sport is injury prevention, but for us it's so much more than that.

It's extremely difficult to manage, and manage consistently, so that whether you're in Victoria, Vanderhoof or from Nelson to Terrace, you can expect the same positive soccer experience. This is where an increase in funding and a coordinated approach by the sports sector is so important if we're going to fully commit to implementing best practice and increasing education and standards when applying safe sport in British Columbia.

I thank you for your time today and for allowing me to be a part of this presentation. Safe sport matters now more than ever.

J. Routledge (Chair): Thank you, Jason.

Now we'll hear from Emma Gibbons, Volleyball B.C.


E. Gibbons: Good morning, everyone. My name is Emma Gibbons, and I am the chief executive officer of Volleyball B.C.

I gratefully acknowledge that I am coming to you today from the traditional lands of the Coast Salish, Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish Nations.

Volleyball B.C. is the provincial sport organization for indoor, beach and sitting volleyball in B.C. We are a non-profit membership organization with around 6,000 players, coaches and referees who participate in youth volleyball through approximately 80 clubs around B.C. We have an additional 3,000 adult participants in our recreational programs and a network of staff who deliver community programs around the province.

I would like to start by thanking you for the financial support that B.C. has given to sport, both on an ongoing basis and in recognition of the tough times that our sector has faced during the pandemic. I am, however, here today to support the sports sector's request for an additional $12 million investment to enable us to support and implement the priorities outlined in B.C.'s Pathways to Sport.

In particular, I feel passionately about the Pathways principle of safety. Sport has the power to improve mental, physical and economic wellbeing as we come out of this pandemic. But unless safety is at the heart, these benefits cannot be delivered. Every single sport organization must deliver the highest standards in safety and ethics that place individual wellbeing at the core. That is why additional investment is needed.

Recognizing this, Volleyball B.C.'s strategic plan has a strong focus on safety and wellbeing because our members told us that safety was a top priority. To learn more, we just completed an extensive member survey, and we found that safety extended to beyond just the risk of injury. Even though most of our members said that they felt safe participating in volleyball, 63 percent said that they thought psychologically harming behaviours were a problem in our sport, 50 percent highlighted a negative focus on body image, and 49 percent said that bullying is an issue. All of these are behaviours that are defined as abuse and maltreatment.

The good news is that we have some solutions, but this kind of work requires additional resourcing. Like most other sports, volleyball is kept affordable and accessible because it is delivered at a community level by non-profit clubs that are almost 100 percent volunteer-run. But this often means that they don't have the resources for training.

[9:40 a.m.]

Further provincial investment will mean that community-based clubs can access education and training in safety. It will allow us to help our clubs by creating and implementing standards and providing more support and resources to help them deliver safe sport.

Here's why the investment is needed now. In my previous role, I ran a community club and personally had to deal directly with an issue related to safety and ethics. One of our underage female players had been inappropriately contacted by an older male referee. She was intimidated, uncomfortable and did not know what to do. Fortunately, she had a supportive coach and parents who became aware and supported her to report this issue to the club.

For me, running the club, this was a situation that exposed gaps in our organization. We are experts in running sport programs. We are not experts in appropriately handling or managing safety, ethical or harassment issues. We had no training or policies that addressed inappropriate behaviour, and we struggled to find support and guidance to help us correctly respond. We found solutions that appropriately dealt with the situation, but it was hugely stressful on all parties, and most volunteer-run sport organizations are in the same situation.

To fully realize the benefits that sport brings, we need to ensure that community clubs are equipped, resourced and have solutions to address safety. Organizations like Volleyball B.C. are well positioned to deliver these measures, but we require additional and sustained investment to do so.

COVID-19 has stretched our capacity and our viability so that we desperately need more support. Without the additional investment of $12 million, we're simply perpetuating a sport system that says behaviour that is physically or emotionally unsafe is okay, and that is not good enough for kids, for adults or for anyone in B.C.

B.C. sport is well positioned to lead the country in safe sport if we receive appropriate investment. The additional investment from the province of B.C. has the potential to change lives for people all over the province.

Thank you for your time and your attention this morning.

J. Routledge (Chair): Thank you, Emma.

Finally, we will hear from Robert Bettauer, Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence.


R. Bettauer: Thank you for the opportunity for us to present to you again, in partnership with our sport sector colleagues.

My name is Robert Bettauer. I'm CEO of PISE, the Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence.

We acknowledge that PISE is located on the territories of the Lək̓ʷəŋin̓əŋ and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples, with whom we continue to enjoy a strong and collaborative relationship.

PISE is a not-for-profit organization that is also a recognized charitable organizational in health and education.

I want to open by thanking the B.C. government for the financial support provided to the sport sector through the COVID pandemic. It was greatly appreciated by all and has made a profound difference in helping manage the ongoing financial impact of this unique crisis.

PISE's purpose statement is: "Transforming lives through healthy activity and sport." We enjoy a collaborative model of successful partnerships with the public and private sectors, including our founding partners, Camosun College and Canadian Sport Institute Pacific, contributing to post-secondary sport in exercise health education, a world-class training environment for Olympic and Paralympic athletes and the overall health and well-being of citizens in our community. We are very proud of the accomplishments of Canadian athletes at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, with a number of podium results achieved by athletes who train at PISE.

PISE plays a leadership role in the development of physical literacy by training practitioners in multiple sectors and through the delivery of programs directly reaching over 10,000 children and youth annually, including many children from vulnerable backgrounds. In particular, we work in partnership with a number of local Indigenous communities, providing physical activity programs that develop physical literacy. We feel this is how we can contribute to reconciliation and understand the importance of learning, listening and working together.

PISE's work at the regional level to achieve collective impact continues to grow and now includes working with all four school districts in south Island, in elementary and middle school classes, with Island Health, the recreation centres and other community organizations that include a strong teacher-practitioner mentorship element.

Our approach to developing physical literacy is much more that skill development. It is about diversity and inclusion through an approach that inspires creative movement, exploration and helps develop confidence, respect, fun, cooperation and fundamental skills in a safe environment.

[9:45 a.m.]

We believe the strong partnerships we've established with the education, health and early-years sectors are leveraging our expertise and resources with programs engaging youth in physical activity through social connectiveness towards our common goal of children who are healthy and active.

It is with great pleasure and gratitude that we received $1 million from the provincial government earlier this year through the community economic recovery infrastructure program towards the artificial turf replacement of our Field of Dreams project. The new turf is being installed as we speak and will be ready to use by mid-September for all our members in our community.

In addition, we want to share that as part of our commitment to safe sport, we invested in adding a shock-pad system underneath the new turf that will improve impact absorption, reducing related injuries such as concussion and joint injuries for the many youth who train and compete on our field.

We strongly encourage further investment and infrastructure upgrades to sport and recreation facilities throughout the province, as they are the key hubs that host quality sport development environments and provide access to physical activities to thousands of participants from all backgrounds and abilities.

I am chair of the Greater Victoria Sport Tourism Commission, which works with the community to identify and support hosting of provincial, national and international sport events that bridge pride, interest and economic benefit to the region. These events also facilitate sport development through motivation of our youth and the creation of legacies that help develop outstanding facilities like PISE that serve the community.

Consistent with the goals in the B.C. Pathways to Sport strategy, we reinforce the importance of a provincial hosting strategy and funding framework to ensure that B.C. has the ability to successfully bid and host these essential events that play such a vital building-block role in our sport system.

We want to reinforce the principles and values that have been communicated to you today from our sport partner leaders. COVID has underlined the benefits and need for regular active living through sport and physical activities. The link between physical, mental and emotional health is empirically validated, and we experience it firsthand through our daily interaction with the thousands of community members we serve.

What you are hearing from us today is the ability of the sport sector to effectively collaborate and lever resources to our common purpose of providing a safe, inclusionary, accessible environment for all. Safe sport and reconciliation are two critical areas that our sport sector has prioritized in the coming years, recognizing how transformational they are to life for all British Columbians.

We therefore encourage you to support the increased investment of $12 million to the sector, as referenced, to implement the B.C. Pathways to Sport strategy, as we believe we have demonstrated the benefit to the citizens of our province and we have the capacity to successfully deliver on our mutual goals. Thank you.

J. Routledge (Chair): Thank you, Robert.

Now we'll turn to questions from the committee.

M. Starchuk: Thank you to all of you for a presentation that makes me smile.

When we talk about youth sports, we talk about giving a person something to do, and we give them…. In some cases, it keeps them out of trouble, but more importantly, there are health benefits for the whole province. Keeping a kid active keeps them healthy. Then, again, with volleyball, you mentioned about the 3,000 adult groups that were out there as well. I like that.

The question is to Allan. You had touched on it. We talked about the strong impact to community, but you touched on sports tourism. I wanted to hear from the group, and maybe start with you, about what kind of impact there is on the communities when your events come to their towns.

A. Prazsky: We've done a number of studies from our smaller events all the way through to our larger events. The Kelowna Apple Triathlon attracts about 750 participants, and that generated about $9 million of economic spinoff. The Ironman, which was just recently cancelled due to the increase in case counts, delivered about $40 million to $50 million in economic spinoffs for that one event.

[9:50 a.m.]

We host approximately 60 events each year ranging from small 200-person events all the way through to about 4,000 competitors that would see an Ironman. So it's a broad range of events that benefit each community that they get delivered to.

M. Starchuk: Were any of the others going to make comment about what…?

R. Bettauer: I'll just step in for a sec. As I mentioned, I'm chair of our sport tourism commission.

Victoria has a very deliberate strategy. Actually, we've worked with Destination Victoria together, which underlines how the community values the developmental and economic impact of running events, sport events, in our community.

PISE is a legacy of the Commonwealth Games that were hosted here in 1994, and there's also a leadership legacy that is developed when you host events, through the volunteers, the individuals who are involved in organizing.

All the events that we now host, like, for example, international and national events, often contain or involve a youth component as well, so that youth not only have the opportunity to observe the event and be motivated by it, but there's also some skill development built around those. The impact isn't only on youth development. It's economic, and it also builds pride in the community.

J. Elligott: Just to add that, as well, from a soccer perspective, we have, in a normal year, anywhere from 120 to 150 sanctioned tournaments that happen across British Columbia from our membership level.

Also, at our level, when we run our events, the strategy that we have for our provincial championships is we purposely move them around the province so that those members in those communities can showcase not only their organizational abilities but their communities and their towns.

Some of these events, depending on the number of teams…. As an example, one coming up this weekend, Labour Day weekend, is a sanctioned event under our membership structure. It's going to have probably about 20,000 players participating across the Surrey and Langley and Delta area. All of those groups are coming from all over the province to participate in that event — granted, if restrictions continue to allow for this.

The impact is great because there are a lot of hotels and economics that come in, supporting the local communities around all those types of things.

E. Gibbons: I would like to really follow up and say much the same. We have a really robust indoor club tournament structure. The competition structure for us is tournament-based, which creates more of the events. They culminate in the provincials, which are typically held in Abbotsford but also in other communities around the province. We have several thousand that come together to compete on that basis.

We also run a beach tour that actually is very popular. It goes to Parksville, to Kamloops, to Vancouver. It's been all over the place. Penticton. That also has not only the impact, obviously, of the competitors travelling from one event to the other but the economic spinoff, as we are using local businesses. The number of visitors that come in…. We use the local hotels, and we've developed really good relationships with the communities that we host in. There's definitely a lot of excitement, as you said, when events come to town.

Picking up on what Robert said, as well, when there are those large flagship events…. We recently hosted the men's Olympics qualifier at the PNE. That was last year. We have those spinoffs. Alongside of that, there are legacy projects, where we had tournaments for youth around the east side of Vancouver to come together and to learn more about volleyball and to try it. We also had training for the local community coaches and officials. We try as much to leverage the glitzy side of the events to actually have the tangible community benefits as well.

M. Starchuk: Thank you for everything that you do. I know the other spinoff — and I'll leave it at that — is the scholarship end of things that your organizations provided to the skilled people that can make it on and save their parents a ton of money when they head off to college and university.

B. Stewart (Deputy Chair): Thanks very much for those presentations. It's interesting. The Paralympics are still on, and we were watching with excitement about the swimming medals yesterday. At least I think it was yesterday.

Anyways, I go back to, Allan, your comments about the recent competitors that were on the Canadian Olympic team and the number of medals.

[9:55 a.m.]

Just to clarify, you said 50 percent of the medals that were taken in the Olympics in Tokyo were from British Columbia–based athletes? That's correct. Okay.

I guess the question is that the program that was introduced prior to the 2010 Winter Olympics, Own the Podium…. I know John Furlong reasonably well, and I know that it's kind of considered to be kind of our secret weapon, if you want to call it that, for Canada. I love it. I can tell you that having been in China, the Chinese definitely wanted to know. They wanted us to help them. Of course, we thought: "Well no, this is the Olympics. We're going to do what we can."

Anyway, how much of that is still a part of what you're doing in terms of taking people, whether it's soccer, volleyball and all the other sport that's in…? I mean, we see so many that just happen. Is that program integrated in any way so that the athletes that come through PISE…? The part about it is that I'm just kind of looking at…. Are they integrated? Are they working together to collaborate? Of course, we do want to win on the world stage. There are always the losses that we experience and stuff like that, heartbreaks. But anyways, can you just tell us whether…?

A. Prazsky: Sure. To some degree, it does get funnelled down to the provincial level, but Own the Podium funding is largely specific to high-performance development at the national level. Our mandate, the provincial sport organizations, is to develop athletes from the grass roots all the way up to the national level. Then that's where we hand them off.

We're very fortunate that we receive enhanced excellence funding through the Canadian Sport Institute. We've been deemed a sport capable of producing next-generation athletes, so we do get some funding for high-performance athlete development. But it's very, very restricted and, in this case, couldn't go on to layer over safe sport.

J. Elligott: Soccer is in a very similar situation. Own the Podium focuses primarily on the national level, with Canada Soccer. We have a great working relationship with Canada Soccer, and we've built programming to bridge the gap between those two areas. It doesn't actually lead to funding from that perspective, but there are the program linkages there, along with working with the professional soccer clubs to support that level of play.

We very much have the same as Allan, where we take them to a certain level, and then we hand them off to the national body.

E. Gibbons: We would be the same in volleyball, as well, just to finish off the PSO perspective. We don't access any of the Own the Podium funding, but we do have programs that support our athletes, obviously on to Team B.C. and beyond. As was previously mentioned, the opportunities to get scholarships and financial support through the PSO is also there for those athletes who go on further.

We do have the women's national team training here at the Richmond Oval, so they are in the province of B.C. We do benefit from those programs. They have a next-gen program that is there, so we try as much as possible through our contribution. We contribute financially to having them there too. We leverage that in terms of providing opportunities for our provincial athletes and coaches and officials to access the resources they have at that program.

R. Bettauer: I would just add that PISE, as a sport institute and a multisport organization…. Canadian Sport Pacific is actually housed at PISE. As I mentioned, many of the Olympic and Paralympic athletes actually train at PISE on a daily basis. That support is provided through Own the Podium and the provincial government as well.

Our partnership is one where…. We understand the role of Canadian Sport Institute Pacific and the national sport organizations that are at PISE. Our role is to help feed into that. So we do a lot of the performance work at more of a developmental level with a variety of sports.

I would say that the most important work we do — and I say this often to Wendy Pattenden, who is the CEO of the Canadian Sport Institute — is we're doing your high-performance work for you by delivering physical literacy opportunities across the province to thousands of young children who get exposed and get introduced to a healthy, active lifestyle.

[10:00 a.m.]

If that number continues to grow, a percentage of that will pursue performance sport. The more children we have healthy and active, the more children will pursue performance sports, and the system will just become healthier and stronger. Our role is just to ensure that they have a pathway that provides them the best opportunity possible.

B. Stewart (Deputy Chair): On that note, Robert, I can't help but think about, with the challenges that we've faced from the opioid crisis, the whole idea of having good sport — that is the cornerstone to making certain that not only having the professional teams, like the Whitecaps and things like that, but having the hockey teams and things like that….

They've all been so suppressed, and I think we can see that the reopening has been so important. Thank you for what you do, and let's work on getting the Summer Olympics here.

R. Bettauer: I couldn't agree more. It's about preventative measures, right? Being proactive and providing the youth a pathway to a healthy life.

J. Routledge (Chair): Okay. Seeing no other questions, let me close it by thanking you. Also, one of the things that I've really been struck by in your presentations and the conversation is your attention to safe and respectful sports.

I think that what's been going through my mind as I've been listening to you is that for many of us — when we were children, and our children, and our grandchildren — sports stars are role models. They're heroes. And if you are teaching players how to interact with each other respectfully, then you're teaching our society how to interact with each other respectfully.

Thank you very much for that, and we'll bid you goodbye. Take care.

We'll recess until 10:25.

The committee recessed from 10:02 a.m. to 10:25 a.m.

[J. Routledge in the chair.]

J. Routledge (Chair): Okay. I'll reconvene the committee.

Our next panel is ready to go. Our first presenter is Corinne McKay, Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Council.

Over to you, Corinne.

Budget Consultation Presentations
Panel 3 – Sport


C. McKay: Good morning. I'm Corinne McKay, president of ISPARC or Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Council. I am so grateful for the opportunity to share with you the important and life-changing work of ISPARC and our partners.

My journey began as a volunteer at the Prince Rupert friendship centre often driving kids to and from events. My passion for youth sport led to the opportunity to become a basketball coach. I've been blessed to support generations of female basketball players to compete in the Junior All-Native Tournament, which is a provincial tournament, and the famed All-Native Basketball Tournament.

Like many other Indigenous sport leaders, I've witnessed the tragic loss of aspiring young Indigenous athletes. Too often it has been the direct result of not being able to afford the cost of participation. So I've made it my mission to do whatever I can to eliminate the barriers Indigenous People face to the participation in sport. I stand by the position that sport is the right of every child.

Almost 15 years ago I was drawn into a provincewide movement to establish a new Indigenous sport and physical activity infrastructure in B.C. designed to respond to the needs and priorities of Indigenous communities. That process led to the creation of the Indigenous sport, physical activity and recreation strategy, the first strategy of its kind in Canada and the birth of ISPARC. In fact, our model has been highlighted as best practice both in Canada and in the United States.

With the support of our partners, including the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport and the Ministry of Health, over the last ten years, ISPARC has established 50 new provincial programs and delivered 5,900 events involving more than 190,000 participants. Our successes are the result of collaborative partnerships with more than 40 provincial and national organizations from the sport and physical activity sector and hundreds of Indigenous communities and organizations throughout B.C. inclusive of First Nations, Métis chartered communities, Aboriginal friendship centres and schools.

By bringing together Indigenous communities and non-Indigenous organizations to develop community-focused and culturally appropriate programs, we are breathing life into the TRC's calls to action that position sport as a vehicle for reconciliation, a vehicle for healing.

The recent findings of unmarked graves at the sites of residential schools brings to life the importance of our work. Generations of Indigenous children were robbed of their right to live freely. Generations of Indigenous parents were robbed of the opportunity to witness the laughter and joy of their children at play and to celebrate their health and well-being through sport.

We are more determined than ever to overcome the historical circumstances that have marginalized Indigenous People from participating in sport. We are deepening our work in order to create a sport environment that is both safe and welcoming to Indigenous participants. To achieve this, we are inviting the sport sector to embrace cultural safety training, sharing our traditional knowledge and models that promote holistic approaches to sport and advancing change through the implementation of an Indigenous long-term participant development pathway.

I want to end by offering our strong support for Sport B.C.'s Pathways to Sport and the sector-wide request to increase government's investment in sport, which will bring much-needed resources to the sport system for advancing our shared goals for sport and reconciliation. Only then will we see the kinds of meaningful and lasting changes to B.C.'s sport system that will be transformative to the health and well-being of Indigenous communities.

[10:30 a.m.]

I thank you for the time and the opportunity to provide you with this information and to submit our request for continued support.

J. Routledge (Chair): Thank you, Corinne.

Next we'll hear from Rob Newman, Sport B.C.


R. Newman: Thank you for the opportunity to present on a collaborative approach of B.C.'s amateur sport sector.

Before I start, I would like to respectfully acknowledge that while the work of Sport B.C. and our members takes place all over the province, the office of Sport B.C. is on the unceded, traditional territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.

My name is Rob Newman, and I'm the president and CEO of Sport B.C. and the president of the Aboriginal Sport Circle, the national voice of Indigenous sport in Canada.

Sport B.C. has been around for 55 years and is the non-profit federation representing 70 provincial sport organizations. These member organizations support local clubs and the more than 800,000 British Columbians who participate in sport. We advocate on members' behalf to improve the landscape for organized amateur sport in B.C. We deliver services and programs to build member capacity, and we strive to make sport more affordable for low-income families through our signature KidSport program.

We also work closely and collaboratively with other key organizations, such as viaSport and the Indigenous Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Council, ISPARC, through a multisport leadership table.

Sport B.C. knows the power of sport. We know that sport builds communities, friendships, leaders and healthy and resilient citizens, and we know sport is important to B.C.'s economy. According to StatsCan, sport and recreation directly employs close to 16,000 British Columbians and contributes $930 million to B.C.'s GDP.

Because sport and active living contribute to our health and wellness and the vibrancy of our communities, in March 2020, the province of B.C. released Pathways to Sport: Strategic Framework for Sport in British Columbia. Pathways is a five-year road map for making quality sport opportunities more accessible, safe, welcoming and inclusive, for continuing to support high-performance athletes and coaches and enhancing hosting opportunities.

COVID, of course, has dramatically delayed implementation, but the pandemic and the absence of sport has helped us realize that sport is more important than ever. It's imperative that British Columbians' physical and mental well-being for families get back in the habit of being active. We believe additional investments in Pathways to Sport will help get British Columbians back to sport and will level the playing field for those of diverse backgrounds.

Over the next 30 days, you will hear from many representatives from B.C.'s amateur sport sector, some as presenters, others through written or video submissions, showing their support for Pathways to Sport. However, you'll also hear that the sector's capacity to support the strategy has been impacted by the erosion of government funding over the past ten years and the impact of COVID. It will take several years to fully get back to sport, to rebuild the base of community volunteers and rehire staff, which is why we are seeking annual funding increases over time.

You will hear that collectively, we are seeking additional base investment from the province of B.C. of $12 million over three years to invest in initiatives that will implement Pathways to Sport and specifically improve and advance the following: affordability; reconciliation through sport; accessibility, inclusion and diversity; safety and ethics; sport tourism; and support for our next generation of high-performance athletes at Olympics, Paralympics, North American Indigenous Games and Canada Games.

Earlier today you heard from a number of presenters on the importance of additional investments in B.C.'s Safe Sport initiative, which is led by viaSport. You have also heard about the critical importance of reconciliation through sport. B.C.'s sport sector is fully committed to reconciliation, and positive progress has been made. Through additional investments in ISPARC, these efforts can be expanded.

For now, I'd like to end by thanking the province of B.C. for its investment in sport and the steering committee for taking the time to hear our case for renewed investment.

J. Routledge (Chair): Thank you, Rob.

Our next speaker is Sue Griffin, ProMOTION Plus.

[10:35 a.m.]


S. Griffin: Good morning. Thank you so much for the opportunity to speak with you today.

I respectfully acknowledge the importance of the land which I call home is the traditional territories of the Coast Salish peoples — in particular, the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh.

My name is Sue Griffin. I'm a passionate volunteer and advocate for those who identify as girls and women in sport, currently serving as past chair and current member of ProMOTION Plus, Sport B.C.'s gender equity pillar. I'm the past CEO of the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame and the past executive director of Tennis B.C., currently the director of philanthropy for the Canadian Mental Health Association.

In consultation with a B.C. cohort of women who are leaders, volunteers and participants in sport in B.C., I have the privilege of presenting to you today. Our desire, quite simply, is to ensure that all those who identify as girls and women have equal access to participation and leadership opportunities in sport in British Columbia and to eradicate the barriers that they confront every day.

The benefits of sport are very well documented in Pathways to Sport and the Rally Report. It's a launching pad to build the next generation of women leaders — pushes boundaries, builds confidence, develops self-confidence and is proven to increase and enhance physical, mental, social and emotional health.

We've seen tremendous results from our female high-performance athletes who compete in the B.C. Games, Canada Games and Olympic and Paralympic Games. These women fully understand the benefits of sport. They are leaders and role models in our community.

We're losing sleep over the sharp decline in participation rates. One in three girls drop out of sport, versus one in ten boys. As many as 62 percent of girls are not playing sport at all between childhood and adolescence, and for those who are living with a disability, 8 to 10 percent are less likely to participate in the sport when they reach their late teens.

We're losing sleep over the impact of COVID on sport. One in four girls are not committed to returning to sport when this is over.

We're losing sleep over systemic, unconscious gender bias within the sector. Bias that's found in the board room, the office and the field. Bias that's reflected in decision-making, policy development, programming and leadership opportunities. Let me give you a couple of examples.

Jasmine is a young female soccer coach, and she has the opportunity to coach the girls team, but not the boys team. Bob is a young male soccer coach and has the opportunity to coach both the girls and the boys team. Why is he offered the opportunity and not Jasmine, given that they both have similar qualifications and experience? Jasmine and Bob then apply for the same head coach position. Bob gets the job.

There are 25 percent of women coaches across all levels of sport in Canada. Bob is part of the 75 percent club. Jasmine is part of the 25 percent club. Unconscious gender bias in the coach selection process is obviously clear. Then we ask ourselves why a young woman would consider a career in coaching.

The good news is that 30 percent of executive directors and CEOs in the sport sector here in B.C. identify as women. It's tremendous.

One last example of personal experience. I was offered the executive director position at Tennis B.C. My predecessor's title was CEO. When I left, my successor's title reverted back to CEO, and he received an increase of $40,000.

We need more same-gender role models, because quite simply, you can't be what you can't see. Financial barriers, barriers to access, career opportunities — it's no wonder why women eventually leave sport and don't return. But together, I know that with an additional investment of $12 million, we have an opportunity together to deconstruct systemic unconscious gender bias and create a more inclusive sport system and demonstrate a return on investment to the citizens of British Columbia.

We will track qualitative and quantitative indicators, as set out in the Pathway to Sport, showing an increase in participation and retention rates, developing a business model that fosters equity, diversity and inclusion in sport, while tackling the really big issues of unconscious gender bias and intersectionality.

The success of sport in B.C. depends on how, together, we engage those who identify as girls and women. Now is the time that we can come together and help to rebuild our sport system.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to present to you today.

J. Routledge (Chair): Thank you, Sue.

Our next speaker is Jake Winn with Right to Play.


J. Winn: Thank you for having me here today. I'm the program manager for Right to Play's Indigenous programs for the western region.

I'm speaking to you from the unceded, traditional territory of the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish nations of the Coast Salish peoples.

[10:40 a.m.]

As an ally organization, we honour the voices and nurture the friendships we hold with Indigenous communities. We are committed to not only acknowledging the historical legacies of colonization in Canada and the ways colonial systems continue to impact Indigenous peoples today but to being an active participant in reconciliation.

We currently are in partnership with over 70 Indigenous communities and organizations across Canada, including 19 in B.C., for the upcoming 2021-22 program year. Past provincial support has included a $150,000 grant in 2018 from the Ministry of Education to support Play's work around educational outcomes and $30,000 civil forfeiture grants in 2019, '20 and again in '21 to support youth leadership.

For more than a decade, Right to Play's PLAY program, which stands for Promoting Life-skills in Aboriginal Youth, has partnered with Indigenous communities to offer play-based programs that promote healthy life skills development in children and youth. Due to the ongoing effects of colonization in Canada, many Indigenous youth have been denied access to quality education, health and well-being services. Chronic underfunding, geographic isolation and lack of access to resources are just some of the challenges they face.

We have received several unsolicited endorsements, including from the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, the First Nations Summit and the B.C. Assembly of First Nations. To date, over 110 communities and Indigenous organizations have expressed interest or applied for the PLAY program.

With the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, we quickly responded and revised in-person programming and training to add remote programming support, while maintaining high-quality delivery and engagement practices across all partners and programs. This pandemic has highlighted the need for Play to support youth to rebuild relationships and participate in life skills programming. As the Gitanyow Hereditary Chief said of the PLAY program and the community mentor position: "We think this position will be even more essential with the situation the world is facing. Young people may begin to feel bored and isolated, which may not only lead to interruptions in their physical fitness but especially their mental well-being."

Between 2021 and 2025, Right to Play will explore the best ways to address meeting the diverse and ever-changing needs of community partners through four priority areas. The first priority area is youth leadership. We recognize the strengths and needs in promoting youth leadership and will prioritize enhancing a sense of agency among Indigenous youth. Programming will specifically focus on building knowledge around children's rights, Indigenous rights, leadership and advocacy, with an emphasis on building social and emotional learning skills to take on leadership and advocacy roles in community.

The second priority area is the land-based program. The creation of a culturally relevant land-based program addresses a need and aligns with feedback provided by community mentors and evaluation reports of the PLAY program. This program will support Indigenous children and youth's mental health and well-being. We will partner with five communities in the first two years to co-design the program that centres their world views and practices. Additional communities will be added each year.

Our third priority area is quality education. We'll deepen our impact by working directly with education institutions to train educators on culturally responsive pedagogy and safe and inclusive learning environments.

Our fourth and final priority area is crisis response. The power of play can have a powerful healing effect. In recent years, we have partnered with the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and the Ministry of Children and Youth Services in Ontario to provide short-term programming and support to communities in crisis, including disaster relief and mental health trauma assistance.

Recent support in B.C. includes support for Tk'emlúps Indian Band, after the recovery of 215 unmarked graves, and the Skeetchestn Indian Band, whose members were evacuated and displaced by fires for nearly a month. Right to Play is committed to forming a crisis support management team to facilitate and deliver resources when called upon.

With the support and dedication of our partners and donors like you, we seek to engage more communities in B.C. to build, deliver and manage our programs that enable children and youth to rise above adversity. It is part of our shared responsibility to play a part in reconciliation and respond to calls to action Nos. 63 and 66 put forward in the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada report. Help us deepen and broaden our programs. Help us ensure that our impact is sustainable for generations to come. Together, we can help children rise.

Thank you for having me.

J. Routledge (Chair): Thank you, Jake.

Our next and final speaker, before we open it up for questions, is Katelynn Ramage.


K. Ramage: Good morning. My name is Katelynn Ramage.

I would like to acknowledge that I'm speaking to you today from the unceded, traditional territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations.

[10:45 a.m.]

This morning I will be talking about three things: first, how family income can be a barrier to participating in sports; second, how KidSport B.C. provides help to some of those families; and third, how COVID has impacted movement behaviours for children and youth, particularly those from lower-income families.

Statistics Canada has estimated that sport participation rates for children and youth are 26 percent lower in low-income families. Statistics aside, I would like to share my story with you.

My journey in sport began in 2000, when the B.C. Summer Games came to my hometown of Nanaimo. I remember being out with my grandma and seeing these athletes. I thought they were Olympians. I am sure some of them did continue to move on in sports.

I wanted to be at that level, but at the age of seven, I didn't realize that for me to get there, my biggest obstacle was money. I grew up in a single-parent family on income assistance with a parent who struggled with mental illness. I nearly ended up in foster care in my teenage years, as her battle with mental illness almost took her life. Most months were a struggle to pay bills, to keep a roof over our head and food in our fridge, let alone outside expenses like sports.

I was active in sport through my elementary and high school years with school-based sport, but I wanted a season that lasted more than a few weeks. Sport was an outlet for me. Sport allowed me to be a kid, even if it was only in that moment.

A family in my high school suggested that I apply to KidSport so that I would be able to pursue track and field more seriously. I am thankful for KidSport support for two years, as it allowed me to attend university on an athletic and academic scholarship and have opportunities to compete on provincial and national teams in track and field. Now I dedicate my time not only as an athlete but as a program administrator with KidSport B.C. and in the pediatric science academia world.

KidSport is a Sport B.C. program that provides grants of $400 per year towards sport registration fees. The program is administered through 40 community chapters run by dedicated community volunteers through Sport B.C. Sport receives $400,000 annually from the province of B.C., which leverages an additional $1.7 million in community-raised funding. This means that every $1 invested by the province of B.C. generates an additional $4.25 in community fundraising.

KidSport helps over 7,000 children and youth each year, but we need to do more. The 2020 child poverty report card estimates that 159,570, or 18.5 percent, of children and youth live in poverty in B.C. Many are from populations that face multiple barriers to participation: Indigenous, new Canadians and individuals with disabilities. That means that less than 5 percent of those children and youth are currently able to access KidSport grants.

Additionally, the maximum KidSport grant has remained at $400 for at least ten years, while the cost of sport continues to rise. According to a 2017 survey by Ipsos, the annual cost of putting a child into sport was nearly $1,200, up from $950 in 2015. KidSport grants are not keeping pace with inflation.

Our sector is seeking an additional investment in sport of $12 million over three years. Affordability is a key component. Additional investment in sport and KidSport could help improve affordability and reach more children and youth so all kids can play.

Sport is more important than ever due to COVID. COVID has had a significant impact on all of our lives. Earlier this year, I co-authored a paper published in the Journal of Sport and Health Science. It explored the current literature and the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on movement behaviours of children and youth worldwide. The findings were consistent.

In the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a decline of physical activity time and an increase in screen and total sedentary behaviours, in addition to a later shift in bed and wake times and increases in total sleep duration. Other research has shown that COVID has disproportionately impacted lower-income families. When we look at this, sport is more important than ever to break these new habits. Sport is more important than ever for lower-income families.

Without KidSport, I would not have been able to experience what it's like being a kid, nor the opportunities that sport has brought me, such as competing at the Pan American Games, winning national championships or the medium to be part of a community, a sense of being on a team and other life skills.

J. Routledge (Chair): Thank you, Katelynn.

We'll now open it up for discussion and questions from our committee.

[10:50 a.m.]

L. Doerkson: My questions are for Katelynn.

I am familiar with KidSport. I guess I wondered, first off…. The $400 per year — is it per sport? Is it per family? In other words, can one child apply for hockey and also for soccer? Secondly, what's the annual budget for KidSport?

K. Ramage: I can answer the first part, and then I can direct Rob, maybe, to answer the second part of the question.

The KidSport grant is $400 per calendar year per child. If the family has multiple children, they can each apply. But it is one grant per year there.

R. Newman: Yes, Lorne, with regard to the other part of your question of what the annual budget for KidSport is, KidSport was a program that was created by Sport B.C. about 35 years ago. It's now a national program that operates in every province and territory in Canada.

They grant out, nationally, about $7.9 million or $8 million. In the province of B.C., we grant out about $2.1 million, and that is basically everything that we raise. There is very little carryover or carry-forward into future years for funding.

M. Starchuk: I love the KidSport thing. I was part of a board of directors of a baseball league many years ago. There were some people that accessed those funds, and it did all the proper things.

You had mentioned, Katelynn, 159,000 kids that were living in that poverty level that was there, and I might have missed the number. What is KidSport reaching out to that group of kids? What is that number?

K. Ramage: On average, our granting numbers throughout British Columbia are about 7,000 children and youth that are reached per year.

M. Starchuk: To follow up — I guess this is more of a comment — you had mentioned in the world of COVID that we've got a lot of screen time, rather than a lot of athletic time that's going out. I think it's good news to see that there is some agency, some organization that's out there that's actually kicking the gamer off the couch and out onto a field. So thank you.

B. Stewart (Deputy Chair): It was good to have all the presentations. I hadn't thought so much about the impact on sport with the decline that you've all mentioned, and I hope that we can help reverse that trend.

One thing that, Sue, you talked about, which is kind of disturbing…. I mean the number that one of three young girls drop out of sport, and we've got one in ten boys. I don't know if that is getting better, or it's the same, or…. But I guess the question really is: what do we need to do to change that?

S. Griffin: Girls and boys are motivated to participate in very different ways. Boys are motivated by performance, and girls are motivated by social. So understanding that…. There's really greater consultation that's needed to really determine individual motivation. It's a matter of increasing the number of same-gender role models and leaders in sport.

We're doing really well in British Columbia in terms of executive directors and CEOs. We're seeing that. We really need to increase the opportunities for women in coaching, both at the paid level and the volunteer level. As I mentioned earlier, it needs to start at the boardroom and go right down to the field.

I really believe, with the rest of my cohort of women, that this unconscious gender bias really starts at the boardroom and goes right down to the field from professional to volunteers. I think if we had a gender-equity lens that all the PSOs, MSOs, DSOs really incorporated into policy and programming, it would help increase education. It would increase understanding. It would increase opportunities to provide a safe and secure sport environment for girls to participate in. It's really understanding the different motivations.

Does that help?

[10:55 a.m.]

B. Stewart (Deputy Chair): Yeah, it does. I'm just trying to think of what rules we have to put in place or how we deal with….

S. Griffin: You know what? There's a lot of work that needs to be done. We've done some great work here in the province, thanks to the ministry.

We need to take a greater look at that intersectionality and the gender bias, going right down into the policies and procedures that have an unconscious gender bias demonstrated throughout. That's going to take time, and that's not going to happen overnight. But I know…. With the will and with an action plan — which I know that Rob and the leaders in the sports sector will consult with the ministry on — I think there's tremendous opportunity, step by step.

B. Stewart (Deputy Chair): If I might, Chair, I just want to go to one other question to Rob Newman. He mentioned the erosion, over ten years, of funding.

I think about how, at the time when we had the Olympics, we had Healthy Living and Sport as a ministry. Things have kind of shifted. Has that been a part of the fact that we have backed off, as government, in making that a priority? I mean, how much impact did that have when there was that focus?

R. Newman: That's a good question and probably one that I can't answer. I do know that with the erosion that has happened over the last ten or 12 years, some of that has been based on the fact that some of the funding to amateur sport comes from the investments earned off a sport fund held within government.

Of course, with interest rates that have dropped, those allocations have been reduced. There haven't been significant increases, or any increases, to the sport funding, the core funding, since 2010. So it has been a while, and certainly, with all the initiatives that we're planning and wanting to implement with the Pathways to Sport — from affordability, reconciliation, safety and ethics and the sport tourism lens — there's a need for this increased investment so that we can get on with business.

B. Stewart (Deputy Chair): That's great. Thank you.

M. Dykeman: Thank you to the panel for your presentations. It's great to see so many of you again. I know that I've had the privilege to meet with you in different roles.

The question I have…. Through the pandemic, we've seen so many changes with needs. We've heard about the challenges with mental health, and we've also heard about youth being more drawn into the world of video games and other things by virtue of being home more.

Looking forward — I've had a chance to look up the plan that you were talking about, Rob — what do you think are the biggest challenges you're going to face with engagement in sport going forward? Do you see this having further-reaching effects on engagement in sports? I guess, essentially, I'm wondering what you're thinking your greatest obstacles that you're going to face going into the next year might be.

R. Newman: Thanks, Megan. It's great to see you again.

We're going to have several challenges, for sure. Of course, this fourth wave is going to cause some issues as we roll out sport, and we're just nicely getting back to sport. Most of us know — and I'm sure that most of you know, around the table — that sport is heavily reliant on volunteers. Volunteers basically operate sport throughout the province in every community — you know, [audio interrupted] fields, scraping ice, and all the rest of the things that go along with that.

Over this time of COVID, we've lost some connection with volunteers. Recruiting them back again is going to be a challenge, for sure, because they basically are the horsepower behind sport in many, many communities. Again, we've noticed, especially on the affordability front and at KidSport, fundraising is a huge component of what we do in our 40 chapters across the province. With those chapters, those are made up of volunteers also. So that's going to be a challenge in moving forward: to be able to have enough funds to grant out.

We know that there are going to be more families affected and needing assistance for their kids. That's something that's going to be difficult.

[11:00 a.m.]

Of course, for many of our member PSOs, DSOs and MSOs — again, for them getting back to business…. They lost a lot of registration income because sport had stopped. Getting that back up and running again is not going to happen overnight and not going to happen quickly.

We're going to have a few challenges, for sure, but we all know that sport is very resilient, and sport will come back stronger than ever. But we're going to need some help along the way, for sure. We're looking forward to working with you in government to see what we can do to do our very best job on that.

M. Dykeman: Thank you so much. It sounds like there is a lot to look into in the next year.

M. Starchuk: It's not a question; it's a comment.

Corinne, thank you for the very unique document that you've sent us. It kind of helped out with my writer's cramp. I didn't have to take down notes. I could actually just listen and go through it.

Your four-pillar approach is so detailed, the way you lay it out there, with your outcomes and your goals and your actions. I just wish you well with how that's all laid out. It is a road map to success, and I just wanted to thank you for that awesome document.

C. McKay: Thank you.

P. Alexis: Also, I don't really have a question, but it's more of a comment. I'm just so impressed, and I've learned so much. I just appreciate all of your hard work.

In particular, thank you, Katelynn, for sharing your story. I sat for a number of years on scholarship committees, so I really understand the impact of sport and how much of a difference it can make in young athletes' lives. Scholarships are amazing and provide opportunities to help students along. Thank you for sharing that.

To Sue –– an amazing story. Thank you for shedding more light on this. I have more of a cultural background, so I'm always learning with respect to the sport. I was the vice-president of the B.C. Winter Games when they came to Mission, and I learned so much at that time too. Thank you for educating us.

Thank you to Corinne for the comprehensive document that you sent as well.

Thank you to all of you.

J. Routledge (Chair): I'm not seeing other questions. So on this note, I would like to wrap up this part of this panel, this part of the presentations.

I guess what I would like to say, in conclusion, is…. I have not, in my life, been that engaged in sports. I think I've thought of it as entertainment: either entertainment for the people who participated — and my family participated in sports — or entertainment for those who watched sports. You have given us an insight that is so much deeper than that, that the meaning of sports in our society is so much deeper.

I'm rethinking terms that we use kind of unthinkingly — like someone is a "good sport" or that is "good sportsmanship." When I think about that in the context of every day, the terrible things that are captured in the news, of people behaving badly to people who don't deserve it, we need more sports in our society to teach us good manners and to teach us how to be good citizens.

Thank you for taking the leadership on this.

C. McKay: Maybe it was the quote from the World Health Organization. The quote was for every dollar we invest in young people, we save $7 in social costs. I had a conversation with Minister Bennett, and she feels that cost is much greater.

In my own experience in an urban setting with friendship centre basketball programs, the programs gave the kids a place to belong. They weren't on the streets. They were in the gym on a Saturday night.

I just wanted you to hear the quote and to understand why we are involved to the extent that we are. Thank you.

J. Routledge (Chair): Thank you. We'll say goodbye to you for now.

Okay, we will recess until 11:20.

The committee recessed from 11:05 a.m. to 11:22 a.m.

[J. Routledge in the chair.]

J. Routledge (Chair): We will proceed with our first presenter, Patricia Gerhardi, Rodeo Association.

Budget Consultation Presentations


P. Gerhardi: Good morning. Thank you very much for this opportunity to present to you on behalf of the British Columbia rodeo community.

For those of you who are not familiar with the sport of rodeo, I'd like to take a few minutes of your time and share with you our perspective. Rodeo is very much more than a sport. It is, in fact, a celebration of our western lifestyle and culture.

The origin of rodeo was on ranches and farms of the pioneers as they settled western Canada. As neighbours were often few and far between, when celebrations such as marriages and funerals did occur, it was often an opportunity to also share the skills of horsemanship and the handling of cattle. As a result, competitions were developed and were the basis of what we now know as the sport of rodeo.

To put your mind at ease, when it comes to working with cattle and horses, all cowboys and cowgirls put their animals first. Whether it's a $400 pony or a $40,000 workhorse, our animals receive the very best in health care, living conditions and transportation.

In British Columbia, there are four primary rodeo associations. These are the Little Britches Rodeo Association, with competitors ranging from the ages of four to 12; the High School Rodeo Association, with competitors ranging from the ages of ten to 18; the British Columbia Rodeo Association, whose members range from the age of three to 83; and the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association, with headquarters in Calgary, Alberta. That association represents those cowboys and cowgirls that have gone on to the highest level of competition in Canada.

All walks of life and nationalities are represented through our rodeo associations. From the professional hockey player — when Carey Price comes home, he's a cowboy — to the little cowboy and cowgirl who look up to their heroes and superstars of the cowboy world, we are a family.

When a rodeo production comes to town, there are many factors involved. It takes a year of planning and many moving parts. Most often, committees are within the community, and those are all volunteers. They reach out to stock contractors who actually raise and breed the bulls, horses and cattle that are part of our competitions. Our contractors, of which there are only a few handfuls in each province, will have approximately 200 to 300 head of stock. These animals are bred to buck, in the case of a bull riding or bareback or saddle bronc horse competitions. The cattle that are used for the timed-event roping events, are raised for size and quality.

[11:25 a.m.]

The rodeo community will then reach out to the community for volunteers. A good volunteer number in a small rodeo is 20 to 30 volunteers. In some cases, such as a pro rodeo, they will have as many as 100 to 125 volunteers. The facilities are built and maintained in almost all communities throughout British Columbia, which are used throughout the year for all natures of events, such as traditions of trade shows, fairs, and are only limited to the imagination of those hosting events.

Local sponsors help them match the funded rodeo events by the contributions of cash and in-kind donations. Many sponsors have supported the rodeo community for up to 40 and 50 years in such communities as Williams Lake and Quesnel. These two communities have hosted and been holding rodeos for almost 100 years each.

Having given you a bit of a background of what this sport is about, I'd like to share with you the economic that these events bring to small communities. Using the provincial government formula for economic impact from events, the Quesnel Rodeo has an impact of $1.2 million over a three-day event, and the Williams Lake Stampede has an economic impact of $1.5 million over four days. There are no other single events in most of the small communities that will have this type of economic impact in such a short period of time.

In the smaller communities, such as Bella Coola and Anahim Lake, the annual rodeo will be the largest event of the year, and sometimes, the only opportunity for communities to get together and celebrate their pride in their province, the love of family in a celebration of our western lifestyle and culture. Local sponsorship and fundraisers are no longer enough to maintain these fabulous events. Therefore, we reach out to bodies such as yourselves, representing the provincial government, and we share with you the costs of our productions, as well as the impact of our events on our community.

Over the past few years with the pandemic, we have not been able to host our events, and with the rising costs of most every portion of conducting a business, we reach out and ask that you include the sport of rodeo in your budgeting planning. To put on a small rodeo, the costs will range from up to $40,000. To put on a larger production or host, perhaps, a pro rodeo or a British Columbia Rodeo Association event, it will cost up to 150 or more.

In the past, we've been able to utilize gaming funds through the Lottery Corp. to some extent, which has supported some of our committees for such costs as officials. Over the past year and a half of funding opportunities that have been presented to the citizens of British Columbia for many events and businesses — the sport of rodeo has not been included. Even though we've been invited to participate in the Legislature, we were unable to even make an application, as our event was excluded from the criteria, and no exceptions were made.

We believe that we offer a healthy lifestyle choice to body and mind and a healthy business opportunity in our smaller communities, and we ask that you seriously include our sport and our communities.

We'd like to thank you today for the opportunity to present to you. If there are any questions about any portion — about the sport of rodeo or how we conduct the business of rodeo — please do not hesitate to reach out and contact either myself, Patti Gerhardi, at 250-961-9667, at pmg@pmgcommunication.com, or my colleague, Ray Jasper, the president of the Quesnel Rodeo Association, at 250-991-8391.

Thank you so very much.

J. Routledge (Chair): Okay, thank you, Patty. Now, I've let you go quite a bit over time to get it all out. I think you've given us a pretty thorough presentation, but if there are one or two questions, we can fit that in for a minute or so.

M. Dykeman: Thank you for your presentation.

Down the road from my farm is Little Britches Rodeo, where my children grew up riding their ponies. I remember their first sheep-riding and many happy days spent at the rodeos as they've grown up. They're both adults or nearly adults now.

[11:30 a.m.]

I just wanted to confirm the COVID funding. There were several different versions of it: the small business ones and other ones like the circuit breaker. Was rodeo eligible for any of them?

P. Gerhardi: None.

M. Dykeman: Thank you for clarifying.

P. Gerhardi: You bet.

J. Routledge (Chair): Lorne has a question?

L. Doerkson: Maybe a little bit more of a statement.

Thanks so much, Patti, for your tireless efforts on behalf of rodeo. Obviously, this is near and dear to my heart as well. I just wanted to point out a couple of things to maybe add to your presentation for consideration, certainly for our Finance Ministry.

Rodeo is so much more than just a sport. We've been hearing from sports this morning, of course. Certainly, the kids that compete at a high-school level have an opportunity to win scholarships for education, etc. Of course, the cultural value throughout the province is significant, right?

Like others have mentioned here today, when you go to any kind of a festival or rodeo in a place like Clinton, Quesnel or Williams Lake, it's an incredible event. It really does bring the communities together.

I just wanted to thank you for your tireless efforts on behalf of this committee and certainly on behalf of the rodeo family that you so dearly are loved by. Thank you, Patti.

J. Routledge (Chair): One more quick question from Greg.

G. Kyllo: More of a comment, Patti. Thank you very much for your presentation. I come from the riding of Shuswap, home of the Falkland rodeo. We also have the Salmon Arm Fall Fair and the IPE.

Further to what MLA Doerkson had mentioned, it certainly provides a lot more value than just the rodeo sport itself. Especially, 4-H provides that opportunity for our youth to get out and show all of their skills that they've been learning throughout the year. It really surprises me that despite continual concerns being raised with the minister, there has still been no funding or allocation for the event sector. I can't for the life of me understand why we have not extended that funding for the larger events that are happening throughout the province and that have such a big impact in rural B.C.

I just want to thank you for your advocacy. We'll continue to support your efforts, hoping to see that government opens up their treasury and provides and extends that funding to your organization.

P. Gerhardi: Thank you so very much. We truly appreciate your support.

J. Routledge (Chair): Thank you, Patti. We have other presenters. So we'll say goodbye to you now. Thank you for your passion and for what you provide to the community.

Adventure Tourism Coalition.


K. MacRae: Adventure tourism has become a significant player in British Columbia's visitor economy. With its high-yield, light-touch approach to economic community and environmental sustainability, the sector has a potential to play a significant role in B.C.'s recovery moving forward.

British Columbia is a world-class international tourism destination, and adventure tourism is a significant player in that visitor economy. Before being the hardest-hit subsection of the tourism industry, due to COVID-19, the adventure tourism sector contributed an estimated $3.2 billion to the economy each year, along with thousands of family-supporting jobs and significant investments in rural British Columbia. Adventure tourism plays a key role in both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, and is an inspiring example of deeply rooted commitments to environmental stewardship and sustainability.

The Adventure Tourism Coalition is made up of 19 sectors, including angling, mountain biking, heli-skiing, public recreation, outfitting and wildlife viewing. In many cases, the ATC members embody the brand of "Super, natural British Columbia." These outdoor, wild and nature-based adventure providers are vital to B.C.'s global positioning and have been severely impacted by the travel restrictions set in place as part of the COVID-19 containment measures.

In 2019, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture announced its new strategy: Welcoming Visitors, Benefiting Locals, Working Together: A Strategic Framework for Tourism In British Columbia. This strategy recognized the value of the adventure tourism sector and included a commitment to support growth of adventure tourism. The Adventure Tourism Coalition continues to support this framework and its priorities of diverse inclusion and recovery that align so well with those of our sector, our opportunities, our employees and our clients.

[11:35 a.m.]

We have identified two key initiatives required to fully realize the financial potential for the adventure tourism sector — one being an updated adventure tourism policy; the second, the formation of an adventure tourism branch. To start with, the policy, the current adventure tourism policy is simply an administrative policy that treats adventure tourism in a similar way to other activities authorized under the Land Act, including but not limited to private moorage, log handling and communication sites.

If the province is to capitalize on adventure tourism's relevance, the international tourists and, therefore, its importance to British Columbia's economy, the policy requires substantial updating to reflect changes in the current business environment. We would like to use the all-seasons resort policy as a model. We propose a new adventure tourism policy in conjunction with changes in government structure and legislative and recovery changes being created and implemented to encourage, enable and manage the sector's growth rather than administer it. An update of this nature will play a significant role in moving adventure tourism to the next level of financial contribution to B.C.'s economy.

The second, as I mentioned, is an adventure tourism branch. Now, to take full advantage of adventure tourism growth opportunities in B.C., we recommend the creation of a new adventure tourism branch, ideally housed within the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture. This branch would be responsible for providing sustainable growth of adventure tourism throughout British Columbia. Using the mountain resorts branch as a model, the new adventure tourism branch would include staff capacity to champion the sector and improve communications between the sector and government.

Because B.C. is 94 percent Crown land and has a big role in remote areas, resulting in management more by accident than by design, historically, increased resource extraction has resulted in significantly more access and thus more people on the land, many of whom are at cross-purposes. As we continue to evolve, we need improved certainty and collaboration on the land. Land use planning requires better communication and planning between user groups to produce better outcomes for all. The advances will ensure that industry knows who is operating on the land and that the public knows their rights and obligations. Currently it's a free-for-all.

Instead, by clearly defining the rights and responsibilities of industry — adventure tourism and public recreation — increased understanding and collaboration will result. These initiatives will reduce confusion and conflict and, therefore, produce a better experience for all involved. For example, First Nations, ranchers, industry and adventure tourism outfitters will all understand each other's forums and uses in how to work together.

J. Routledge (Chair): Thank you, Kathy.

Now I'll open it up for questions from the committee.

P. Alexis: Thank you for your presentation. Are you currently working with conservation officers and that kind of thing, with respect to regulating the Crown land and recreational space?

K. MacRae: As the Adventure Tourism Coalition as a whole, we are not. Individually, with the 19 different sectors, we are. Each of us work with the conservation officer service.

P. Alexis: Is that message being resonated, that it is a free-for-all? I happen to know about our own area in my own community, and I know how difficult it is to manage with just the number of staffers that are available. Is this your first time to present to this organization the request to look at a land use plan?

K. MacRae: To you? To this group? Yes. We have presented to different ministers — to the tourism branch and to the lands branch — our request for increased support for land use planning and to make those changes. Yes, that's where the "free-for-all" is taking place. There is lack of communication between sectors.

P. Alexis: Okay. Just wanted to make sure I had everything right. Thank you so much.

J. Routledge (Chair): Other questions?

It looks like you did a thorough job of explaining everything to us. I see no other questions, and I'll thank you for your time.

K. MacRae: Well, thank you so much. If there are any questions, then I'm always available via email.

J. Routledge (Chair): Okay. Thanks, Kathy.

Our next presenter is Catharine Edwards, PacificSport Vancouver Island.

[11:40 a.m.]


C. Edwards: Good morning, everyone. Thank you for taking the time to listen to my presentation.

I would first like to acknowledge that I am presenting from the unceded, traditional lands of the Snuneymuxw First Nation.

My name is Catharine Edwards, and I am the executive director of PacificSport Vancouver Island. This morning I will lead you through a short presentation about the regional alliance. I will then finish with a more detailed account of some select PacificSport Vancouver Island programs.

Since 1992, the B.C. government created a framework that integrated the sport delivery system in the regions. Today there are eight regional centres and three campuses of the Canadian Sport Institute Pacific.

In 2011, the B.C. government established viaSport as the lead agency for sport in B.C. to provide strategic leadership. The regional national centres and viaSport work together, creating a united regional alliance. With expertise in physical literacy, sport development and sport performance and with many multisectoral partners, such as recreation, education, health and sport, the regional alliance supports the Pathways to Sport by ensuring quality sport programs are delivered to develop the capacity of athletes, coaches, local sport organizations and communities.

Eight years ago PacificSport Vancouver Island was awarded a contract from school district 68 to deliver an after-school program targeting schools with a high percentage of students who have barriers to participating in sport and physical activity. We have been operating the after-school sport and arts initiative ever since. We reach up to 1,000 students in 15 schools in grades K to 7 each year. Although it was challenging, we were still able to reach over 200 students in six schools during COVID.

The sport programs focus on fundamental movement skills, sport skills and having fun. If the kids are having fun, they will come back each week to give us another opportunity to help them improve their movement, social and emotional skills.

One of our most impactful moments, for me, came from one of our school administrators in the second year of our program. He said that on the days that our program is in the school, the 25 registered children in the program are guaranteed to arrive in school that morning. On the other days, it's a 50-50 chance that they show up at all. In addition to this improved attendance, the students are on their best behaviour so that nothing gets in the way of their participation in the after-school program. This alone is significant for these students in their education and physical education journey.

In addition, over 60 percent of our staff are students at Vancouver Island University, in the PE, recreation, education and child and youth care programs, giving them much-needed work experience with children in a sport setting as well as an income to help support them while they're going to school. It's a win-win-win for PacificSport, the school and the students.

In the spring of 2018, we launched an exciting physical activity program for kids with locomotor disability aged five to 12. We called it WheelKids. Through active games and play, our WheelKids program provides fundamental movement skills in a safe and fun environment for all participants. In 2019, we were instrumental in bringing wheelchair racing to the school district track and field meet. We had six participants, and we will be expanding this in 2022.

A quote from one of our WheelKids parents. "It's hard to put into words what WheelKids has meant to our family. It's one of the first activities that has allowed our son to be fully involved without limitations, boundaries or being the odd one out."

When we offer our WheelKids programs, we focus on the children who have a disability and then surround them with supportive friends and families to make up the numbers. Whether they are using a wheelchair or not, we can all have fun and learn new skills.

Sport is not just about winning gold medals. It's about community, leadership, health — physical, social and emotional — physical literacy and giving individuals choice in their physical journey throughout their lifetime.

[11:45 a.m.]

With increased funding, we could realize our goals in creating satellite offices in our communities in the region, expand our programming to all communities, partner with more local organizations and reach out to more participants to help them improve the health of each community by implementing quality sport programming, coach leader training and encouraging being active for life.

J. Routledge (Chair): Thank you, Catharine.

I'll now invite members of the committee to ask any follow-up questions, anything they would like clarified.

M. Starchuk: Thank you, Catharine. I'm very impressed with the after-school program, where it actually motivates kids to show up for school because there's a reward at the end of the day.

My question is about WheelKids. Are there wheelchairs for that kind of athletic event? I know that they are very expensive. Are they provided to them? Or is that part of what they have to provide to be able to do the activities that you're providing inside of a gym?

C. Edwards: Yes, we have a fleet of 12 wheelchairs that have been on loan to us from the mid-Island wheelchair sports association. As well, we have received grants over the last few years to purchase wheelchairs to support our programs, as well as our expansion through the region. Also, some of our other partners, B.C. Wheelchair Sports and B.C. Wheelchair Basketball, provide wheelchairs for kids to participate.

J. Routledge (Chair): Are there other questions?

L. Doerkson: I'm just wondering about the size of your annual budget and how many kids or families you're affecting now.

C. Edwards: Well, we receive $135,000 this year from viaSport, and our gaming money is usually around $51,000. And then in addition to that, we make up the rest of our budget through partnerships and grants, and so on, that we work very hard to maintain and increase as well.

In terms of how many families we are reaching at this point, our program is just starting up again since COVID, so our current numbers aren't available. But as soon as I have that information, I can send that on.

J. Routledge (Chair): I see no other questions. So with that, we'll thank you for taking the time to meet with us and giving us some insight into your very important program. We'll say goodbye to you for now.

Our next presenter is Mandi Graham with Engage Sport North Society.


M. Graham: Good morning. Thank you to the committee for the opportunity to present this morning on behalf of Engage Sport North and all the people in the vast region of northern B.C. I am Mandi Graham, the executive director of Engage Sport North.

I wish to recognize that we are presenting to you from the traditional territory of the Lheidli-T'enneh.

Engage Sport North, originally founded in 1994, forms a piece of the regional alliance representing northern B.C. We are dedicated to advancing sport participation and excellence. Engage Sport North provides high-quality sport participation and development services and programming to athletes, coaches, officials and sport leaders.

In addition, Engage Sport North offers introduction to sport opportunities and physical literacy skill development to children and adults, working with people of all ages and abilities from those new to sport to experienced athletes and coaches on a high-performance pathway. With a clear vision and defined strategies to ensure excellence and sustainability, Engage Sport North continuously adapts to the ever-changing sport environment and combines quality services with new and innovative program delivery.

This morning you heard from Northern Lights College and ISPARC on our collaborative working relationship within the northeast and northwest of British Columbia. We believe in changing the status quo. We are bold in our vision and commitment to make a system change in northern B.C., contributing to a healthier future for Indigenous communities, families and individuals by making physical activity, sport and recreation and education our priority.

Engage Sport North is working collaboratively on shared objectives to the spirit and intent of a joint vision with Northern Lights College and ISPARC through the northern concept and the establishment of a centre of innovation and Indigenous education.

[11:50 a.m.]

This includes joint projects, planning and developing opportunities for culturally appropriate, meaningful and quality Indigenous sport, physical activity and advanced education and skills training that meet Indigenous community needs and public education standards.

This work is active reconciliation through recognition, repair, healing, equity, access, opportunity, self-determination, cultural identity and mutual respect. With our core intention of advancing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action, we have established principles as follows: recognition, partnerships, Indigenous-led, stakeholder-enabled, diversity and respect.

The importance of sport and quality physical activity. Sport is a means to healthy lives and healthy communities and for advancing broad public policy in areas such as mental and physical health as well as community and economic development. Positive sport experiences fuel the development of healthier and more active communities and enrich through personal, social and economic development.

Research demonstrates that when youth participate in organized sport, they are more likely to complete post-secondary education, refrain from abusing alcohol and using illicit drugs. These are important considerations for our northern rural communities.

Our success. As a collective, we have begun to co-design the centre of innovation for Indigenous education and the governing council. Several of the communities throughout the northeast have signed MOUs, and this is the first step in implementing these MOUs. The centre is meant to be community-driven and will help to ensure that the community's voices are embedded in the centre right from the start. Communities we have engaged with include but are not limited to Métis Nation B.C., Halfway River, Fort Nelson, West Moberly, Doig River, Saulteau and the Tahltan Central Government.

Engage Sport North recognizes and appreciates the current investments made by the government of British Columbia and the collaborative, collective funding from Northern Lights College, ISPARC and industry sponsors. In this presentation, we lay out our plan to continue this work in northern B.C. to build partnerships and create a centre for innovation and Indigenous education that will have inclusive, equitable health and wellness at the forefront. The total increased funding support needed to enhance and continue moving the work forward is $730,000.

We hope to receive your support and approval of the government budget for 2022. We sincerely thank you for your thoughtful consideration of this work and welcome any questions you may have.

J. Routledge (Chair): Thank you, Mandi.

Are there questions from the committee?

B. Stewart (Deputy Chair): Thanks, Mandi. I just wanted to ask you how many, I guess, people will be impacted by this overall investment that you're asking for? I'm talking about the youth, etc., that you're talking about and families. Can you give us some perspective on that?

M. Graham: Sure. Typically, in our work through northern B.C., we do impact thousands of individuals each year. Our hope will be to increase that participation in our programs. We've done a bit of research on the number of individuals in the communities that we've engaged with, so hoping upwards of 5,000 to 8,000 youth.

B. Stewart (Deputy Chair): Just to follow on with that. Because of the geographic area that you're talking about, is this a mobile program in the sense that it's not centred in one central location? It moves?

M. Graham: Correct. Over the last four years, we've really tried to have a presence in communities throughout the North.

As you're aware, it is very vast — 617,000 square kilometres. We do have hub centres in Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, Smithers, Prince George, and we work very closely with the Upper Skeena Recreation facility just to increase capacity and build sustainability in those communities. So although we are mobile, we try and be very present in communities.

Does that answer your question?

B. Stewart (Deputy Chair): Yes, it does. You've actually expanded the territory by that addition. I wasn't quite realizing how broad it was.

M. Graham: Yes. Being present is very important in the North.

M. Starchuk: Thank you for your presentation.

The ask for $728,000 in addition…. What is your current budget?

[11:55 a.m.]

M. Graham: The ask that we've presented today is a combined ask with ISPARC and Northern Lights College to increase our work on the creation of the centre of innovation and excellence. Our current budget for Engage Sport North to service the region of northern B.C. fluctuates between $800,000 to $1.1 million. The amount that the government currently provides to us through viaSport, which is our funding agency, is $135,000 a year.

J. Routledge (Chair): Seeing no more questions, thank you very much for that detailed presentation. We'll say goodbye to you at this point.

Our final presenter, before we break for lunch, is Martin Littlejohn, Western Canada Mountain Bike Tourism Association.


M. Littlejohn: Hello, members of the committee. My name is Martin Littlejohn. I'm with the Western Canada Mountain Bike Tourism Association. We work with over 40 communities, six resorts and a number of commercial adventure tourism operators located throughout all regions of the province. Today my presentation is on the gap in B.C.'s recreation trails.

What is the value of a trail? There's a lot of research and studies that have been conducted and that show that trails support a number of things that benefit communities. It's amenity migration, tourism, health and well-being. It helps generate awareness for the environment and climate change. It also helps build relationships with First Nations communities so that they can benefit from some of these opportunities and benefits related to trails as well.

In terms of economic benefits, we've conducted a couple of studies in the past on the Sea to Sky corridor, in '06 and 2016, that show a tremendous increase in participation, as well as job creation. I think this has really sort of demonstrated that trails have a decent return on their investment in terms of tax revenues, job creation and continued growth in visitor expenditures.

The crux of the matter right now, I think, in B.C.: we've had lots of success, but what we're faced with — this has kind of been my mantra, I think, for the last few years — is that there's funding to build new trails, there's funding to promote trails, but there's little to no funding available to maintain trails, which is an ongoing effort that is largely conducted by volunteers who fundraise and provide their labour.

They also rely on relationships with Recreation Sites and Trails B.C. Most of these trails, of course, are located on Crown land. So they have partnership agreements in place with Rec Sites and Trails. However, that is an area that is also lacking in capacity. As we've seen, RSTBC is understaffed and under-resourced to be able to meet the needs of the growing demand for trails as well as the complexity around land use.

The challenge that we face is, again, seeing Rec Sites and Trails being able to match the demand from their community partners. Of course, much of recreation takes place on Crown land. We sort of view trails as having a lower land use priority, and we'd like to sort of see them have more priority.

[12:00 p.m.]

We also feel that there's a bit of a lack of vision for B.C. when it comes to outdoor recreation, and a recreation strategy is needed, especially to navigate the future with the ongoing pandemic and climate change and to really understand what the economic value of the recreation is to the province.

There are opportunities to have B.C. become recognized as a world leader. We have the terrain, the people and the resources, really, to make that happen, but we need to support some of those areas that are lacking capacity.

I'm just going to move on to the recommendations, as we're getting a little close to the end here. What we are recommending is to increase the annual operational budget for recreation sites to Trails B.C. to $20 million to develop a B.C. outdoor recreation strategy with a funding model to support trails, and the creation of a position for parliamentary secretary for outdoor recreation to oversee strategy development and seek cooperation from within the various ministries that would need to be involved.

That's our vision for the future. We think B.C. has a tremendous future for mountain-biking trails and recreation trails in general, and we think that if we can support the maintenance side of the equation, we'll be well positioned to see this contribute to benefits to all of the communities in the province and the overall economy.

Any questions?

J. Routledge (Chair): Thank you, Martin.

Questions for the panel from the committee?

G. Kyllo: Thank you very much for your presentation. I'm just wondering if you could share the impact e-bikes are having on the mountain-bike industry. Are you seeing that as an opportunity to really grow the sector?

M. Littlejohn: Well, I think it's another part of the evolution of mountain biking, for sure. Anyone who is a mountain biker or who does some mountain biking would probably recognize how mountain biking has evolved in terms of its technology and in terms of the way trails, for that matter, have been designed and built.

The e-bike is definitely the next step. It's something that we've seen tremendous growth in. A lot of these volunteer clubs are having to adjust to some of the changes, the demands that that places on them, because now people can ride longer distances and do more laps within their local trail network. Obviously, that puts more pressure, again, on the trail system itself.

I see there's a big future in e-bikes, certainly here in B.C. But at the same time, that still places a lot of demands on trying to maintain our extensive trail systems in the province.

G. Kyllo: If I may, Madam Chair, just a bit of a follow-up to that.

Is there any tracking of the actual utilization? Are you seeing, on account of COVID…? Of course, being out in the great outdoors, it's a very safe type of recreation. What type of a percentage increase are you guys seeing year over year?

M. Littlejohn: It's tremendous, yeah. I mean, it certainly was a noticeable change as soon as last spring of 2020, when COVID set in. People had to adjust from vacation plans to perhaps…. A lot of people, I think, went out and bought e-bikes with some of their vacation budgets.

They've looked at some of the trail counters in the Sea to Sky corridor, and those range from 50 to 150 percent increases over previous years in terms of the number of participants or trail traffic. That's for all forms of trails — hiking, biking. All different types of trail user groups are reporting increases since COVID set in. But I think there has also been a shift towards that even prior to that. It has become a very popular activity just to be out on trails and experiencing nature. It's kind of a bit of a renaissance, I suppose, that we've been in for the last number of years for outdoor recreation.

[12:05 p.m.]

M. Starchuk: Thank you, Martin, for your presentation. As a person that spends a lot of time on the trails, and to MLA Kyllo's comment about e-bikes, on the trails I ride, I've never seen an e-bike. They tend to stay on the flatter gravel, with those big, fat tires.

You make comment about "increase the budget to $20 million." Could you tell us what the budget is, and will that increase actually make a difference on the maintenance? I can definitely attest that the trails I ride on the Lower Mainland are all maintained by volunteers.

M. Littlejohn: It's a difficult number for us to come up with. Currently, I think, their budget is around $8 million.

A lot of the communities rely on support from Rec Sites and Trails. Right now it seems as if Rec Sites, RSTBC, staff are quite overwhelmed trying to keep to certain workplans. Even with some of the funding that was available through CERIP and the TRTD funding, some of those projects which have a two-year window for completion are being held up. They may not be able to even get rolling before there's going to be not enough time to be able to get those projects completed. So that's a big concern.

RSTBC also provides, I think, $5,000 grants to go towards maintenance of the different trail systems with those clubs that they have partnership agreements with. That's certainly helpful, but it's really a drop in the bucket, I think, in terms of what kind of support is required. Again, this is really about making our trails the most sustainable trails, perhaps, in the world and encouraging more visitors to come and get those benefits to the communities.

That number really represents…. I think there's something like 15,000 kilometres of mountain bike trails in the province. There's lots. Some of those are resource roads and so forth too. They're not necessarily single track — ones that are decommissioned roads and so forth.

The maintenance of those is roughly around $5 a metre. So if we were to say that 75 percent of that work will continue to be provided by volunteer labour, roughly a quarter of that is supported by funding that helps them to be able to hire professional builders to augment the work that's required. That would work out to about another $16 million, roughly, annually just to be able to get that part done.

Whether that's through RSTBC or through some sort of a funding model, we feel it's really necessary to find more funding for trails maintenance. RSTBC is a major part of the overall sustainability of the province's trail networks, and we feel they are grossly underfunded and understaffed right now.

M. Starchuk: Thank you, Martin. Just a follow-up with regard to maintenance on trails. Is the majority of the maintenance typical, whether erosion or, actually, the cyclists themselves?

M. Littlejohn: It's a combination, I think, of all. Certainly, when we have really dry weather or very wet weather, that increases the level of erosion due to trail use. But at the same time, there have been a lot of advancements in terms of how to design and build trails so that they're more sustainable during those times.

If you look at North Vancouver, for instance, being right in a rainforest and the amount of traffic that those trails get, they're probably some of the busiest trails in the province. But the work that's gone into those trails — it's been three decades in the making. They are now designed and located in ways in which to be able to minimize the amount of erosion that actually occurs with the amount of use that those trails get.

[12:10 p.m.]

The NSMBA that manages those trails — that's the North Shore Mountain Bike Association — is in a favourable position with three municipalities that they work with. They get municipal grant funding. It's not on Crown land. They obviously have access to a lot more corporate and public support. Their budget annually is about half a million dollars.

That's just one example, but across the province, we're seeing that growth in use, in locations — a lot of them smaller, more rural communities that just simply don't have those resources. Yet the opportunity to gain visitors, to promote active, healthy lifestyles and to attract new residents is equally important and of great benefit to them.

B. Stewart (Deputy Chair): Martin, I know we're running out of time here. So I want to ask a couple of very direct questions. What's the number of memberships, or the member number, in the MBTA? Outside of that, I'm assuming that there are non-users. Have you got those two numbers?

M. Littlejohn: Yeah. Roughly, we've got about 40 communities and six resorts, and we have four back-country operators. Outside of that, then we have our stakeholders, which aren't necessarily paid members, but there are certainly hundreds of those.

That's kind of our membership, anyway. That's every region of the province. There's no region of B.C. that we don't have a partner or member located in.

B. Stewart (Deputy Chair): Where I was going with that is…. It's clear that this has been growing — people's interest in it. I guess the question is….

I've seen many communities — like Burns Lake, in and around the Cariboo — that have developed these tracks and reasons for attraction. But a sustainable model, rather than continuing to be coming to…. Something you might consider is something like what they do with the angling licence in British Columbia. They have a conservation fee that goes with it.

I don't know how that would look. But they've removed the provincial sales tax on e-bikes. Maybe it should be…. To be honest, I don't know if it's all across the whole sector. But the point about it is: it's an idea that might create more sustainability. I don't disagree in terms of that, but I don't know what that model looks like and where it would be feasible to have a kind of user fee. That model with angling is very, very successful for the hatcheries, etc., that run that, so that the government doesn't have to keep doling out money to it.

The only other thing is that recently three or four…. Well, there are three MLAs in the South Okanagan — Roly Russell, myself and Dan Ashton. Essentially, there's a linear park that is 700-and-some kilometres, and there is a very active group. But it has got much bigger tourist implications. I should hook you up with that group, just from an overlap point of view, because I think that they see all sorts of other tourism benefits — you know, people riding bikes, etc., and then staying overnight and doing all these things. Anyway, it's kind of a more developed strategy. I see your address in there. I'll send you the contact information.

M. Littlejohn: Yeah, sure. I'd be interested, for sure, absolutely.

Again, when it comes to cycling, there are numerous ways to kind of package it and promote it, and different types of experiences. In B.C., we're very fortunate because we have a very strong cycling community here, to begin with, that are super passionate about it. Those volunteers love what they do, but they're just being pushed to the limit.

Certainly, in the discussions I have with communities these days, that is kind of a key part of the conversation. It's about how we assist these volunteers so that our trails don't start to disappear or fall into disrepair. Again, that becomes a public safety issue. It also doesn't help…. It wouldn't benefit our reputation, I think, as well. I think we have lots more opportunities to actually take advantage of when it comes to trails, mountain biking and biking in general.

[12:15 p.m.]

J. Routledge (Chair): Thank you, Martin.

We will close out this presentation right now. On behalf of the committee…. Certainly, the committee has been very engaged in what you've had to say. I represent an urban riding — in fact, the Trans Canada Trail goes right across the northern end of my constituency — and I know firsthand how important the trails are for building a sense of community and providing many opportunities.

Thank you for your work on this, and thank you for your perspective. We'll take it into consideration.

M. Littlejohn: Well, thank you very much for your time. I really appreciate you listening to me today.

J. Routledge (Chair): We'll now break for a recess.

The committee recessed from 12:16 p.m. to 1:19 p.m.

[J. Routledge in the chair.]

J. Routledge (Chair): We're going to continue. Everyone is settled, and we're ready to go with our afternoon panels.

I want to welcome our first panel on arts and culture. Our first speaker is David Stocks, Juan de Fuca Performing Arts Centre Society.

David, over to you.

Budget Consultation Presentations
Panel 4 – Arts and Culture


D. Stocks: My name is David Stocks. I'm representing the Juan de Fuca Performing Arts Centre Society. We're incorporated in British Columbia, and we have charitable status. We've been formed for one objective only, which is to create a performing arts venue on the West Shore of greater Victoria.

[1:20 p.m.]

The problem we're trying to solve is a well-documented lack of performance spaces that meet four particular criteria. First of all, it has to be appropriate. The performance venue has to include the facilities that performing groups need. It has to be accessible to both audiences and performers of different capabilities.

It has to be affordable. We don't need a gold-plated, diamond-studded performance venue. We need one that can be rented out to community groups at reasonable rents.

It has to be available. Priority has to be given to performances, not other purposes.

The solution that we're proposing is a venue with spaces for performances, for rehearsals, for teaching, for producing graphic arts, and galleries in which graphic arts can be displayed and sold. We're also proposing, as a fundamental, a community gathering place, a place in which members of the community can gather, meet their neighbors, have a conversation, have a coffee and build a sense of community. We're building community infrastructure.

We need sources of revenue. As you know, community theatres tend to lose money in terms of operating. We intend to have sources of rental revenue. We intend to build spaces that can be rented to, for example, a business that would provide dancing slippers or dancing uniforms, or a business that would sell and repair musical instruments — so businesses that are complementary to the performing arts. We also plan to have a good restaurant, a café and a gift shop.

Now, to build this, we need capital inputs. We propose that the province provide one-quarter of the estimated cost of $60 million. That would be a $15 million capital input from the province. We will, of course, approach other levels of government and private sector sources, various foundations and whatnot, that wish to support the arts. We wish to build a sustainable building from the point of view of the design and the materials that are used, but it also has to be sustainable financially.

One of the driving forces behind us is that we believe — and it has been well documented — that the arts contribute to the health of the citizenry. There is a very interesting book called Palaces For The People, written by Eric Klinenberg, which demonstrates that the existence of a social infrastructure enterprise such as we're planning to build can actually contribute to saving lives during an emergency like a heatwave. I commend that book to your attention.

Mental health, of course, is always supported by the arts. The arts could be used as mental health therapy, both for people who are struggling with mental health issues and for people who are potentially at risk.

The COVID experience. Of course, now that we're coming out of COVID, everybody is clamouring for live performances. We're certainly aligned with that desire.

We're also aligned with government priorities, and I'll mention three in particular. The mandate letter to the Hon. Melanie Mark contains these beautiful words: "Support the creation of dedicated arts and culture spaces." You can imagine how much we enjoyed reading that.

First Nations involvement. First Nations have been involved in the past and will be involved in the future in the planning of the facility, the operating of it and, of course, in the performing.

Another government priority that we support is getting B.C. back to work. We represent a construction project in the order of $60 million, and at least $2 million of ongoing, permanent payroll to operate the facility and those few supporting businesses that I defined. We propose that we're part of a solution to enhance the health of this populace and to support various government priorities. We implore you to support arts facilities, including ours. Thank you.

J. Routledge (Chair): Thank you, David.

Next we'll hear from Anthony Kiendl, Vancouver Art Gallery.


A. Kiendl: Thank you very much. I just wanted to start by acknowledging and thanking the committee for this opportunity to present. My name is Anthony Kiendl. I'm the CEO and director of Vancouver Art Gallery, and I'm speaking to you from the traditional, unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations. We're grateful to live and work on their traditional homelands.

[1:25 p.m.]

I also want to start just by thanking the government of B.C. for its funding of the arts and tourism sectors, including a $1 million investment in the Vancouver Art Gallery as part of the province's COVID recovery response to the tourism sector, and its ongoing commitment to the Vancouver Art Gallery project otherwise known as the Chan centre for the visual arts.

COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on the gallery and across the sector in arts, culture and tourism. In our case, the gallery has lost 80 percent of our visitors, of which 55 percent are tourists. That means a 75 percent reduction in our earned revenue, which led us to lay off over 50 full-time-equivalent staff. We're still working reduced hours at the gallery and working closely with our union to move forward to return to full-time hours. Nevertheless, our doors have been open since July and the initial three-month lockdown of the pandemic, providing relief and inspiration to thousands of B.C. residents during this time.

We sincerely believe that art gives people the tools to think creatively and to solve problems. Art galleries and museums are here to assist people in thinking differently, helping us solve the challenges we face in society and to create healthier, more just and equitable communities. We are grateful for the support from the province, given the leadership of Dr. Bonnie Henry and the management of the pandemic in B.C.

I'm going to talk briefly about the project at the Chan centre for the visual arts, the new home for the Vancouver Art Gallery. We are urging the committee to ensure that this building project is included in British Columbia's fiscal plan for 2022.

The Chan centre for the visual arts is a $340 million, 300,000-square-foot multipurpose community space serving stakeholders and communities across the province. It will include galleries; education spaces; a family learning centre; a centre for early childhood education; an Indigenous community house; a centre for art and communication, which will broadcast our programs across B.C. and around the world; artists' live-work studios; the Institute of Asian Art; as well as visible arts storage that will showcase the province's cultural heritage through our collection of over 12,000 works of art.

This project will secure over 3,000 new jobs in the construction industry to build the Chan centre for the visual arts and to make a significant impact towards B.C.'s COVID-19 recovery plan. It will also create 1,000 permanent jobs in the tourism industry through building the new Vancouver Art Gallery, which was the number-one tourist destination in B.C. in 2020. The tourism industry, as you know, has been decimated by COVID-19, and this would make a significant contribution to rebuilding the sector.

Support for this project also means support for employment and recovery of the arts and cultural workers. There are 28,700 artists in the province of B.C., which represents 18 percent of all Canadian artists, of which 56 percent are self-employed. Creation of the Chan centre for the visual arts will double the gallery's scope, creating more opportunities for exhibitions, commissions, projects and employment of cultural workers.

The project also mitigates the effects of climate change in supporting the creation of the first passive house–standard art museum in North America and supports CleanBC's goal of building better, cleaner buildings and reducing climate change.

The project also supports Indigenous culture, reconciliation and redress, and we have a group of Coast Salish artists collaborating with the architects on the exterior design of the new building.

The project also supports the Childcare B.C. plan, with the creation of up to 37 spaces for early childhood education and preschool.

The project also supports cultural diversity, equity and inclusion, creating social cohesion and serving over one million visitors a year, reflecting B.C.'s diverse culture.

Finally, it will provide B.C. residents with opportunities to engage in creative learning and problem-solving through innovative art activities, which help create a more resilient society and a healthier society.

Thank you again for this opportunity.

[1:30 p.m.]

J. Routledge (Chair): Thank you, Anthony.

Our next speaker, before we open it up for questions from the committee, is Doug Jarvis, ProArt Alliance of Greater Victoria.


D. Jarvis: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for the opportunity to meet with you today and to speak on behalf and in support of the arts and culture sector in the province. My name is Doug Jarvis, and I'm the administrator for the ProArt Alliance of Greater Victoria.

I want to acknowledge that ProArt and its member organizations work on the Lək̓ʷəŋin̓əŋ peoples' territory. We make our living here, alongside the Songhees, Esquimalt and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples, as artists, programmers, technicians, administrators and educators, among many other roles that work together to make art happen in our communities through building relationships with the land and the people of the land.

This is the context in which we all gather here to present perspectives on the value of the resources that this province provides in the service to the health and welfare of all of its citizens.

ProArt is a member-driven organization that represents 18 professional arts organizations that create and manage arts and culture services within the greater Victoria region. We advocate for public sector support in the capital regional district, which is an active, dynamic and multifaceted region within the province's very strong arts and culture sector.

On behalf of the ProArt membership and the regional arts community, I want to thank you. Thank you for the work that you have done so far in your mandate to invest in and support the arts and culture sector. We appreciate the openness of this government and your willingness to consult with this sector as we continue to navigate the ongoing social and economic circumstances caused by the global pandemic. Let's keep working together to maintain and strengthen the social and economic health and wellness of the citizens of B.C. during this time and into the future.

As we are all now aware, the pandemic context has made it quite visible that arts and culture are an important part of the lives of British Columbians. As the citizens of the province navigated the challenges of quarantine, shutdown, social distancing and the disruption of our weekly routines, arts and culture activities, exercises and programs became a lifeline. With the increase in pandemic-related anxiety, uncertainty and the broader social awareness and social justice campaigns that have mobilized over the last couple of years, personal and community health and wellness has become a critical issue.

We are no longer in the time where it is enough to craft strategic support statements to demonstrate solidarity with the communities in which we work, live and advocate. We are now in a time of action. This past year has highlighted the following: that health and wellness is a critical aspect of the daily lives of British Columbians, that the arts and culture sector is resilient, that we need to acknowledge the continued value and benefits of the arts and culture sector and that we need to acknowledge and celebrate the creativity and innovation of our member organizations as they advocate the very challenging and truth-telling aspects of this period of time.

Over this term, art service organizations such as ProArt have been meeting on a regular basis to consolidate our member organizations' perspectives, share information and create best practices to better align as a sector to work with the province. We have benefited from the open and accessible communications with members of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport, the B.C. Arts Council and the public health office. We are working together with other sectors and wanting to work across the sectors, with tourism, with health, to strengthen and expand the ways that the arts and culture sector is active in its own right but also as a collaborative colleague.

For example, there are discussions of reopening campaigns, working with tourism and health to demonstrate and exercise the health and wellness that the arts and culture provide. We are also in support of the diversity that B.C. has in its cultural sector, which is supported by the ongoing investment in arts and culture through the B.C. Arts Council.

We have a few recommendations at this time:

(1) Communicate to the public the important role that the arts and culture have played in maintaining people's health and wellness during the pandemic and beyond.

(2) Respond to the ongoing need for resilience funding.

(3) Commit to stable operating funds for arts and culture organizations.

(4) Continue to prioritize funding for reconciliation and repatriation.

(5) Work with the arts and culture sector and heritage sector to promote the vital role that cultural organizations play in strengthening local economies.

[1:35 p.m.]

As my colleagues are demonstrating with their building projects and the economic impact of employment, we all are asking for more support and stabilization during this uncertain time.

With respect, thank you.

J. Routledge (Chair): Thank you, Doug.

Now I'll open up for questions from the committee.

P. Alexis: First question is for the Juan de Fuca Performing Arts association. Is your venue that you're planning in the city of Victoria? I didn't catch it. I'm sorry.

D. Stocks: The venue that we're planning will be in the West Shore, somewhere west of Portage Inlet and Esquimalt Harbour, because that is the area in which people tend to live. We don't want them to have to drive downtown and drive back after dinner to see a performance, because that would produce all kinds of bad gases and whatnot.

P. Alexis: Are you working with the municipality, I guess, of Esquimalt? Is it municipality or city?

D. Stocks: Thank you for the question.

The municipality we're primarily working with is the city of Colwood. It has been announced, actually, the piece of land that we're negotiating for. Colwood, a few years ago, contributed, I think, $95,000 to a study by a theatre consultant. He interviewed all kinds of potential users. We have a very solid basis for our planning.

We're working with the city of Colwood primarily, although all West Shore municipalities have been giving us money every year and letters of support.

P. Alexis: There's also a model in Chilliwack that was recently constructed, say in the last five or six years, that everybody sort of came together on. It sounds very much like your vision, with the gallery and working spaces and rehearsal spaces and all that. You might want to check that out. Thank you for clarifying that for me.

The Chan centre for visual arts sounds absolutely fabulous. What is your timeline for that?

A. Kiendl: We would break ground next summer. It would be a three-year construction period. We've submitted our application for a development permit with the city of Vancouver, and it's going through the city administration right now.

P. Alexis: Is it the land…? It's downtown Vancouver.

A. Kiendl: Yes. It's downtown Vancouver between Georgia and Cambie.

P. Alexis: Just wanted to double-check. I thought that's where you were going, but it sounded like this was a bigger plan.

I was wondering if there was some conversation about changing locations. This is still the same location, yet you will house all these other entities. It sounds absolutely fabulous. Thank you for that.

I think that's it. I just want to thank the ProArt Alliance of Greater Victoria, because we absolutely know how much we missed arts and culture through the pandemic. I myself…. It was terrible. It was like cutting off my left arm, to be honest. We were busier than ever, and I couldn't go to things and feel things that I needed to feel. It really hit home for me.

M. Starchuk: This is to you, Anthony. Did I hear you say that this was going to be the first passive house museum in North America?

A. Kiendl: Yes, that's what we understand.

M. Starchuk: I don't know what else to say other than "wow." I mean, it's 300,000 square feet. If you guys can accomplish it, I'm looking forward to seeing how that's going to operate that way. The grin on your face is almost like the grin on my face when I think about a passive house.

Thank you very much for clarifying that.

B. Stewart (Deputy Chair): David, just looking at your notes about your performing centre. There's a similar facility that was constructed in Kelowna a few years ago. It's the Rotary Centre for the Arts — a similar seating capacity, has similar rental spaces.

I think it would be really important…. Having been on the committee doing fundraising, etc., for it, I know that it's important in these things that they get utilization and proof of concept, etc. To be honest…. I will get you some contacts for that individual.

[1:40 p.m.]

It's surrounded by the art gallery and a bunch of hotels. It's in the cultural district, as it's called, in Kelowna. I think that because of that, it is more successful than a kind of a stand-alone on its own out there.

I did have a similar question. To clarify, Anthony, the location is on the existing Vancouver Art Gallery location. Is it on…? You said Georgia. Have I got that right? It's over top of the existing art gallery.

A. Kiendl: No. It's about a ten-minute walk to the east, still on Georgia. It's next to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. It's called Larwill park. It's across from the Sandman Hotel, very close to B.C. Place. It would create a real cultural district in association with the Queen Elizabeth Theatre and the Vancouver Public Library being neighbours.

B. Stewart (Deputy Chair): I didn't know how well that would go over, knowing how Vancouver's redevelopment goes sometimes.

A. Kiendl: It's currently a vacant slab right now.

L. Doerkson: The question is also for you again, Anthony. We've heard from other groups today of the dramatic loss of economy right throughout British Columbia for attractions like yours.

I wonder if you could give us a sense of what that economy looks like in your situation. I think you've said that you were off 75 percent in revenue. I wondered if I could get a clear picture of what that looks like.

Also, I guess…. Did I hear you say that you received $1 million? If that is correct, I wanted to know what that money was used for — if it was used for operational, or if it was used to improve the facility.

A. Kiendl: Just on the last one, it's operational. It was $1 million from the province for COVID recovery as a response for the tourism sector.

The overall impact has been dramatic. In 2019, we were a $20 million organization. Our current operating budget is just under $12 million. It's really cut the gallery almost in half. We've done a lot to pivot, moving programs online to keep what staff employed that we can. Of course, we're unionized with CUPE, and we're working very closely with them. But it did result in the loss of over 50 full-time equivalents.

We currently have full-time staff of about 137 employees. Pre-pandemic, it was over 200 employees.

L. Doerkson: Devastating. Thank you.

B. Stewart (Deputy Chair): A question just to Doug. You didn't ask for money specifically. I understand. Investing in the arts has been a big part of my background.

What I wanted to understand is…. The capital regional district…. That cluster, if you want to call it, with the Royal B.C. Museum — does that have an impact in the groups? The ProArt Alliance — are they influential in terms of helping keep everybody afloat?

D. Jarvis: The ProArt Alliance…. Many of our member organizations operate the majority of their programming through the McPherson and Royal theatres. There's a lot of active discussion right now around the facilities and the CRD service to provide a service to regional facilities.

We are in very close consultation with the CRD arts development service and the CRD around the operation of facilities and funding in the region. I am interested to hear about the West Shore project. We're talking at a provincial level here. But we do know that all levels, from local, regional, provincial and federal…. It's how we all work together and intersect on these different levels. That is where we can help develop a healthy, resilient and economically strong province and, more specifically, region.

[1:45 p.m.]

I would say that the ProArt member organizations are definitely supportive of the activities of the CRD. We all want to have well-managed and accessible facilities with sustainable futures in the region so that we can have thriving arts and culture programming and thriving jobs. There are a lot of people looking for jobs and a lot of people, as my colleagues are demonstrating, needing jobs. So, yes, investment from the government in any capacity….

I haven't mentioned the support of the B.C. Arts Council operating funding, because we've been saying that for the last ten years, it seems like, and there has been some definite progress in that area. I think that supporting the B.C. Arts Council operating and their initiatives is a very active and accessible way to support the regional arts, for us, for example, in a sustainable way.

J. Routledge (Chair): Okay. I don't see any other questions, so I would like to wrap up this panel by thanking you so much for taking the time to inspire us, actually. I think it's so important that you have chosen to articulate your requests by putting art at the centre of the life of the community and of the economy.

I guess I want to go back…. I'm paraphrasing. Anthony, I think it was you who said that art gives us the tools to think creatively. As politicians in this very challenging time, we must be thinking creatively. This committee is charged with coming up with new ideas — to hear new ideas from you and package up new ideas from you and from the public. We have to be brave enough to look at a blank canvas and have the confidence to fill it up with something beautiful for the future.

Thank you for being part of that.

A. Kiendl: Thank you so much. We really appreciate the time.

D. Stocks: Thank you very much.

Look forward to meeting you, Doug. We've got work to do.

D. Jarvis: Likewise.

J. Routledge (Chair): See you all later.

Okay. We'll take a short recess.

How long? We'll take a long recess.

The committee recessed from 1:47 p.m. to 2:02 p.m.

[J. Routledge in the chair.]

J. Routledge (Chair): Continuing with the theme of arts and culture, we will hear from Scott Bellis, B.C. Performing Arts and Live Events Labour Coalition.

Budget Consultation Presentations
Panel 5 – Arts and Culture


S. Bellis: Thank you very much. Good afternoon, members of the Finance Committee. My name's Scott Bellis. I'm an actor and director and have worked primarily in live performing arts here in B.C. since 1987.

I'm speaking to you today on behalf of the Performing Arts and Live Events Labour Coalition of B.C. Our group is composed of unions and professional associations whose members, like myself, work in music, theatre, dance and other live performance art forms.

In our sector, working conditions vary widely from customary norms, so my goal today is to bring your attention to some long-standing inequities that are within our sector and recommend some ideas that could allow arts workers — all 28,000 of us in B.C. — to add greater value to the social health of British Columbians provincewide — a value that can't always be measured by the same metrics as some other sectors.

Point 1. Arts and cultural workers knit together many short-term engagements into a low- to modest-income arts career — the original gig economy. We may have a two-month run for a play, or a week or two at an outdoor festival, or a two-day call to load in a rock concert. Many arts workers are classified as independent contractors and do not have access to social safety nets like employment insurance. Very few maintain standard employment relationships. Their work is casual or contract-based, with little stability or predictable future employment.

This long-established precarity was exposed and exacerbated when the COVID-19 pandemic ground everything to a complete halt. There will be fewer arts workers post-pandemic. My B.C. membership list is down 18 percent as of June. Those who make it through will have done so almost solely because of support programs like the B.C. emergency workers benefit and the B.C. rent subsidy. Thank you very much for those. The federal CERB and CRB also, obviously, helped a lot.

With the federal government unwilling to implement a Canadian UBI at present, a B.C.-based arts worker direct benefit payment — similar to the proposed COVID pilot program instituted in the Republic of Ireland — could help ensure that they are able to stay within the sector. A direct payment program with very specific eligibility requirements could make the difference for many artists between making rent and losing their home and being able to stay in our sector.

Point 2: paid sick leave. The movement from the provincial government towards paid sick leave is a very, very welcome first step. Access for live arts workers remains somewhat in question.

[2:05 p.m.]

The old, unhealthy adage, "The show must go on," is still annoyingly present in our community, and it pressures arts workers to work while sick, endangering their own health and that of their colleagues. This is a very big challenge for our sector. Pressure's very high. Performers and musicians cannot simply call in without potentially causing the cancellation of an entire performance and harm to their employer relationships. Fear of reprisal is, unfortunately, still very widespread in our sector.

We recommend a producers' insurance pool, supported by the government, with a scaled health tax on producers that would defray the costs of paid sick leave, and the additional costs of understudies and replacements, that noticeably expand production budgets. The pool would reduce uncertainty for artists and the administrative challenges for smaller arts employers.

Point 3: arts and culture workers funding. We request increased funding for the arts sector that is directly tied to the hiring of freelance artists — not internships and not for the maintenance of operations. Freelance artists are not benefiting from the funding structures currently in place, and that has been demonstrated thoroughly through the pandemic. When all the theatres shut down, the first people kicked out were the actors and technicians.

We ask that the ministry allocate funds earmarked directly to increase employment of freelance artists and technicians. We have to alleviate the precarity of employment in our sector and get our members back to work.

As an example of the status quo right now, in August, the Arts Club Theatre, western Canada's largest theatre company, produced two shows. Each of them had one actor on stage — not helpful. Funding increases in the past have not led to sustainable employment. Funding needs to be built differently to ensure that increases are tied to employment, not institutional operational costs.

Point 4: child care. The movement towards $10-a-day child care is incredibly promising. We request that any publicly funded programs include options for parents working outside the typical nine-to-five structure. We are evening and weekend workers, which makes sense when you consider the role that arts and culture plays within the social fabric of B.C.

Okay, for more details on any of those ideas, please refer to the white paper which will be forthcoming to your committee.

In conclusion, I just want to share one thing. In 2019, my association surveyed its members working in theatre, opera and dance to ascertain their impressions of their own mental health, and 74 percent of respondents reported that a mental health issue had impacted their career — 23 percent significantly or severely — at least once. Over the previous six months, 56 percent had experienced depression, and 74 percent had experienced general anxiety. I suggest to you that financial precarity is a root cause.

Our members deal with a lot. We ask for your kind consideration in the upcoming budget. Arts workers in B.C. are skilled, talented and deeply proud of what they do for the province. They do it our of love, and they make B.C. a better place for it. Thank you for your time.

J. Routledge (Chair): Thank you, Scott.

Now I'll open it up to questions, comments and observations from the committee.

P. Alexis: I don't really have any questions, just a comment.

You've really, actually, captured the very essence of what we experienced through COVID, and in your industry. Thank you for being so succinct and for explaining everything so well.

S. Bellis: I rehearsed it a lot. Thank you very much.

P. Alexis: You're welcome. There was a little bit of noise just as you were delivering. I just wanted to let you know that there was some feedback.

J. Routledge (Chair): Any other questions?

M. Starchuk: Scott, there was a comment that you made that kind of alarmed me somewhat — I would hope, in this day and age, that it didn't exist: fear of reprisal. Is it a fear, or is it a genuine concern?

S. Bellis: Well, I think it has always existed. A certain part of working relationships in the performing arts is built on social capital and subjective opinions about a person's work. As an artist — if you're a freelance artist and you have no guarantee of future income with your current employer, beyond next week — you want to make sure that you maintain a good relationship with the employer so that they will hire you back at some point in the future.

[2:10 p.m.]

If you call into question certain things about working conditions or you say, "I need something from you because I'm sick," there's a fear that you just won't be asked to come back. That's a very real fear that many of our members deal with. So, yeah, anything that would support a worker's ability to claim paid sick leave without fear that they're causing a major problem for their employer would be helpful.

J. Routledge (Chair): I'd like to hear more about actors as part of the gig economy. You'd mentioned that. Just go into some more detail about what a better alternative would be.

S. Bellis: Well, basically, I'm a freelance artist. I don't work for a theatre company full-time. I work anywhere I can get a job. That might be working on a play for a few weeks. It might be working a few days on a film set. It might be helping to workshop a new script. It's very piecemeal. I've never had a contract that lasted more than four months, and I've been doing this for 35 years. We're constantly hopping from one place to another.

Is there anything else I can illuminate for you in that regard?

J. Routledge (Chair): Currently actors are defined as independent contractors, so you're not covered by employment standards.

S. Bellis: That's correct. That determination was made for us by Revenue Canada in 1976, when we formed our professional association.

J. Routledge (Chair): But you're a member of a union, no?

S. Bellis: The answer is yes. We are self-employed.

J. Routledge (Chair): But are you a member of a union?

S. Bellis: Yes, I'm a member of a professional association which represents about 6,000 artists across Canada.

J. Routledge (Chair): Okay. You talked about the changes that the Republic of Ireland made. I, for one, would like to look into that. Is there anything else you would recommend, any other models around the world that are already in place that would address your situation?

S. Bellis: Other examples of UBI — was that your question?

J. Routledge (Chair): You talked about the Republic of Ireland.

S. Bellis: Yes. They had a post-COVID pilot program that they’re instituting, which is going to pay arts workers a minimum weekly rate to help them get back up on their feet after what has now been a year and a half of almost no income, relying completely on whatever the governments have been able to provide for them.

J. Routledge (Chair): I know there's a…. I won't belabour it, but I'm not sure that you're hearing me because of the Internet connection. If there are models elsewhere in the world about actors not being treated as independent contractors and actually being eligible for benefits that other workers are eligible for, I'd be interested to hear more about that.

S. Bellis: Our status in Canada as self-employed contractors is somewhat unusual. I also sit as a member of the International Federation of Actors. In most other countries — the United States, for example — actors are treated as employees and have the same access to those kinds of support programs. Some countries, like Canada — it's a little different. It's a rarity.

J. Routledge (Chair): Okay, thank you. I don't see any other questions.

You've opened up a whole new can of worms in terms of how we treat and respect people in your profession in this province, and you've given us something to look into more deeply.

S. Bellis: It's a great privilege to speak to your committee. I consider it one of my biggest auditions ever.

J. Routledge (Chair): Thank you. We'll all applaud. See you later.

We can recess until 2:25, because our next speaker has cancelled.

The committee recessed from 2:15 p.m. to 2:27 p.m.

[J. Routledge in the chair.]

J. Routledge (Chair): We are now going to be hearing from a panel on libraries. Our first presenter is Rina Hadziev with British Columbia Library Association.

Budget Consultation Presentations
Panel 6 – Libraries


R. Hadziev: Hi there. If you don't mind, I'm actually just going to turn it quickly over to Kevin, as he is the chair of our group.

J. Routledge (Chair): Is Kevin here?

J. Arril (Clerk of Committees): No, he's not here yet.

R. Hadziev: Ah, Kevin's not here. Okay, then I will speak.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today about libraries. My name is Rina Hadziev. I'm coming to you from the unceded territories of the Lək̓ʷəŋin̓əŋ-speaking peoples, the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations, whose relationships with the land continue to this day.

I'm pleased to be presenting this morning on behalf of the B.C. Library Association and in partnership with the B.C. Libraries Co-op, the Association of B.C. Public Library Directors and the B.C. Library Trustees Association.

The B.C. Library Association represents libraries and library staff from across the province. We represent unionized staff, non-unionized staff, staff from large libraries and staff from very small libraries. We represent staff from public, academic and special libraries.

The association also represents B.C. libraries as institutions. These can range from our largest university libraries to our small, local public libraries. We're also privileged to represent many library stakeholders in B.C., including publishers, literacy organizations and library vendors.

The B.C. Library Association was founded over 100 years ago and has had a steady, progressive and relevant role to play as an essential part of the infrastructure of B.C.'s library environment. BCLA is proud to be part of such a vital sector in our province, particularly proud of the work our members have done over the past 18 months.

During the pandemic, libraries and library workers have pivoted and stepped up to support their communities in new ways. At first, when things shut down, they provided take-home technology and Wi-Fi in parking lots. They did online storytimes and programs, and they reached out to isolated seniors and people with disabilities to ensure they were all right and connect them.

As the province has reopened, libraries have helped people get online to reconnect with family and friends in other places, apply for desperately needed financial support and escape the day-to-day anxieties of our current situation.

[2:30 p.m.]

As the province looks to strengthen and rebuild the economy, libraries and library workers will be key, offering access to information and educational resources, teaching new skills, providing physical space and levelling the playing field for those in need. Libraries will also be directly contributing to the economy by employing British Columbians and buying books and other materials.

The B.C. Library Association's request to you is to invest in communities across B.C. by investing in our public libraries.

There is a perception that libraries and library workers are quiet, which I can assure you is not true. What is true is the work that they do is often done quietly. They don't have time to shout about the lives they're changing, because they're too busy stepping up to help the next person in need. We're here to make sure you know about the lives being changed by the libraries and library workers in your communities.

I can tell you that library workers are some of the most dedicated folks you'll ever meet. They truly believe in what they do. They're passionate about making their communities more inclusive, more equitable, more connected and more enjoyable. They've managed to work with stagnant funding for the past ten years, but it's getting harder and harder.

I wanted to just thank you again for the opportunity to share with you what libraries are doing to support people across British Columbia and to ask you to consider supporting $22 million in 2022 to increase the provincial funding for public libraries so that they can do even more to meet what we know are increasing needs of all of your communities. Thank you.

J. Routledge (Chair): Thank you. Rina.

I understand that Kevin has now joined us. So I'll now turn to Kevin Millsip.


K. Millsip: Thank you, Chair.

Hello, everybody. My name is Kevin Millsip. I'm the executive director of the B.C. Libraries Cooperative, and I am the co-chair of the B.C. Public Library Partners.

I'm calling in to you today from the territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations.

As Rina probably outlined in her comments, the Public Library Partners is made up of four organizations. We're all here today on this call and we work together to advocate on behalf of the public library sector in British Columbia.

First off, I just want to start with a thank-you to the provincial government for the one-time $3 million investment that was provided for our sector in the spring of 2020 for digital infrastructure–related projects. I'm happy to share that that investment is being put to excellent use. It was welcome and needed, and it has been utilized in an array of technology projects across the province.

From the partners' perspective, as we think about the public library system as a whole — which Rina has already shared with you some details of — when we think about the different kinds of work that is needed to provide public library service across B.C., we really have one ask for you today. We're asking for a long-term commitment to increase the annual operating grant that is going from the provincial government to public libraries in B.C. from its current allocation of $14 million a year to $22 million a year.

As some of you will know, the current allocation of $14 million a year hasn't increased in over a decade. Without even periodic adjustments for inflation, a frozen budget is one that simply delivers less over time. Municipalities have not really been able to completely fill this gap and we want to try to dial back this trend of the total amount of funding coming from the province to public libraries. We want to change that trajectory, if you will. So $22 million a year would be where we currently would be in terms of provincial grants to public libraries in the province had we not had a cut to the allocation a number of years ago and had that amount kept up with inflation.

Some of my colleagues are going to continue to speak more to the details of what's going on within the sector, but I just want to say this. A lot of the community-building and support work that libraries do every day will probably continue in a combination, a hybrid manner, of online and in-person services for some time. We are trying to raise our collective capacity to do this work well and for libraries to have the support that they need to adapt to the new operating realities of the pandemic, as we're all trying to do, and to be able to provide services to their communities in ways that community members deserve.

[2:35 p.m.]

Throughout the pandemic, libraries haven't really been able to access the different kinds of supports made available from federal and provincial government, and throughout this, public libraries have taken on a host of new responsibilities and a host of new costs just to try to maintain services in this new hybrid environment.

We think about public libraries as a key component of what we would call the tapestry of public services and infrastructure that people are going to continue to rely on as we come out of the pandemic. We really want to be able to come out of this time in a way where we're taking better care of one another. To do that, we're going to need more investment in all aspects of the public realm. We see the provincial government doing that in a number of targeted areas. Our ask is that public libraries be a part of that increased investment environment.

Thanks again for your time. I'll pass it back to the Chair.

J. Routledge (Chair): Thank you, Kevin.

Our next speaker is Jerrilyn Kirk, B.C. Library Trustees Association.


J. Kirk: Hello, everybody. Thank you and good afternoon. As you already heard, I'm Jerrilyn Kirk, and I'm working and living in two different areas of the province. I'm one of the fortunate ones.

I'm calling in today from Treaty 8 territory. I generally will be in Prince George, which is on the traditional and unceded territory of the Lheidli T'enneh, where the two rivers meet. I have a home in each area, so I'm very lucky.

I am here today representing the B.C. Library Trustees Association. Our mandate is to represent, connect and support the nearly 700 volunteer trustees across the province who, on behalf of their communities, govern B.C. public libraries, much the same as the school board trustees govern theirs, although our library trustees don't get a stipend. They volunteer out of a passion for their public library.

I'm grateful to be here today with our sector partners, the B.C. Library Association; the Association of B.C. Public Library Directors, lovingly known as ABCPLD; and the B.C. Libraries Cooperative. You already heard from Kevin. We work together to represent the shared interests of our members and are known as B.C. Public Library Partners.

The provincial government and Minister Osborne are supporters of B.C. public libraries and have voiced their appreciation for what B.C. public libraries do to further the goals of the provincial government.

Across B.C., public libraries are the only public spaces that provide equitable access for all British Columbians, regardless. All British Columbians can access the tools, resources and expert staff for learning, exploring, creating and connecting with others. All British Columbians have access to information for furthering individual, family and community goals such as education, housing, jobs, reconciliation, social inclusion and anti-racism.

Public libraries are there for the big discussions and learning that bring us all together and foster social well-being for everyone. The role of public libraries is broadly recognized and appreciated. As such, the provincial government engages with us and builds shared goals and outcomes with us.

Libraries are part of what makes B.C. successful. But since 2010, all public libraries across British Columbia have been stuck sharing the $14 million annually from the provincial government. Being from Tumbler Ridge, we get a very small portion of that. That funding is spread very thinly across the province, through a variety of annual operating grants, support services and one-time grants.

When inflation and increased service demands are factored in, our sector is being left far behind by the provincial government. Thus, our ask for $20 million in 2020 was strongly supported by elected officials and community members in the prior year's budget consultations.

Two years later we're here, stuck at 2010 pricing, and now we're asking for $22 million in 2022. Our members of BCLTA, who volunteer to govern in accordance with the Library Act, are committed to their communities, to public libraries and to their legally binding fiduciary responsibilities. As they fulfil their governance duties, they are struggling to make sense as to why the provincial government has not yet resolved this funding issue, given the value that B.C. public libraries deliver to the provincial government and across the province.

[2:40 p.m.]

As such, we are compelled, on their behalf, to call on the provincial government to address the stagnant funding of the past decade, to close that gap on the funding that has been lost through lack of increases and to make a commitment to supporting ongoing, reliable funding that is directed to the operations of public libraries and, at the very least, includes annual increases to account for inflation and ongoing costs of delivering public library services throughout the province.

Investing in B.C. public libraries is investing in B.C. communities. On behalf of the B.C. Library Trustees Association board and members, I thank you for your time and the energy that you are each putting into these public consultations and for listening to the concerns and needs of the nearly 700 volunteer trustees that govern B.C.'s public libraries.

Thank you very much. I'll turn back over to the Chair.

J. Routledge (Chair): Thank you, Jerrilyn.

Our final speaker, before we open it up for questions and discussion, is Elizabeth Tracy, with the Association of B.C. Public Library Directors.


E. Tracy: Thank you for having me. My name is Elizabeth Tracy.

I have the privilege of addressing you today from Whistler, where I am grateful for the opportunity to live, work and play on the unceded, shared territories of the Squamish and Líl̓wat Nations.

I am here today representing the Association of B.C. Public Library Directors, a membership organization representing, supporting and advocating for B.C. public library directors. I appreciate the opportunity to be here today in collaboration with the B.C. Library Trustees Association, the B.C. Library Association and the B.C. Libraries Co-op.

I'll give you some context. In a world where social connection has become increasingly difficult, libraries are playing a key role as community hubs that build a sense of belonging. As we gradually see our way out of the pandemic, we now know how much of true belonging comes from building social connection in a real, physical environment.

We often have people tell us that the library is one of the first places in their community that makes them feel like a local. Libraries are one of those places where people don't have to buy anything to be there. Our programs and materials are curated by professional people who are committed to being open and inclusive. When we say "belonging" at the library, we mean it. We welcome all sizes, colours, abilities, ages, cultures, orientations, genders, religions and beliefs. We strive to create a place for everyone.

The library plays a key role in a healthy community, and the library staff have the amazing combined power of trust and generosity that can elevate people's sense of belonging. We get the chance to welcome everyone, and we make them feel at home while we connect them with information, technology and other folks in our community.

In times of abundance and scarcity, libraries provide the solace of non-soliciting environments of escape. We offer a safe and confidential place to explore curiosities, dissolve concerns. We help immigrants navigate the complexities of settlement within a new society. We make referrals and create connections for people struggling to emerge from poverty, abuse, addiction. We create dedicated spaces for children and families to learn and connect. We provide space for civic engagement and discourse on the issues that challenge our societies.

So here is my ask. You've heard from us before, and we greatly appreciate the opportunity to come to you and ask for support on behalf of the individuals and communities we serve. As we are all well aware, the events of the last two years have had dire implications on the health and well-being of B.C.'s citizens, and we see firsthand the ways in which libraries have served to meet the priorities of government.

We ask you to think about the value that is derived from the provincial government's contribution of $14 million to B.C.'s public libraries and how, while the cost of doing business has increased since 2010, libraries have continued to manage doing more with less each year and no additional support from the province.

In the most difficult of circumstances, libraries across the province have worked within the constraints of the pandemic to provide communities with some sense of normal life. We have accomplished that under the pressure of increasing costs, without the additional support of the pandemic emergency assistance provided to many of our counterparts. With this in mind, we ask for your commitment of $22 million in 2022, as well as ongoing incremental increases, so that we can improve our ability to meet the needs of individuals, families and communities across the province when the need is greater than ever.

[2:45 p.m.]

Our members, along with their staff, are on the front lines of community issues like social justice, climate change, economic uncertainty, wildfire, residential school trauma, pandemic-related mental health issues and substance abuse. They're doing everything they can to develop a skilled workforce to navigate these complex issues, along with managing to provide core library services.

It is increasingly difficult to understand why these services have not warranted a minimal inflationary increase since 2010, which is why I'm here today to ask for your support.

On behalf of the Association of B.C. Public Library Directors and the B.C. partners, I thank you for this opportunity to share what libraries are doing in your communities and thank you so much for your consideration and support for an inflationary increase in 2022.

J. Routledge (Chair): Thank you, Elizabeth.

Having heard from all four panellists, I will now…. Oh, I see lots of questions.

M. Dykeman: Thank you to the panel for your presentation. It was wonderful to hear about all of the initiatives that you are undertaking and the hard work that you've done during the pandemic to support communities.

You talked about outreach with a wide group, including seniors. In the outreach that you did, has that translated, as things are opening up, to new users to your library services? What did that look like? Who was it that you found were really coming to you during the pandemic, during the height of the lockdown, for your programming? Has anything changed as you're coming out of it?

E. Tracy: I can speak to this for just a moment, although this is sort of a recent example. I would say, as people have had to adapt to different restrictions throughout the pandemic, the advent of vaccination started to bring people to us for scheduling of their vaccinations and information regarding that.

Now, at this juncture, I would say…. I was laughing the other day because I was seeing my staff practising downloading the app for the B.C. Services Card — of course, doing this in preparation for the vax passport.

Anyways, they were going through this and rehearsing with some of the patrons in the library, knowing that we are going to be a conduit for helping people connect. Nowhere is this more true, as things roll out in the technological sense, than with our senior community.

M. Dykeman: That is very interesting. Further, is there anybody else that would like to weigh in too on sort of the changing role through the pandemic?

R. Hadziev: I would say one of the examples — I can tell Jerrilyn has something too — from some of the libraries that actually did their reaching out…. I heard of examples of libraries who were doing things like looking at….

One of the services that is pretty standard in libraries is that if people are too frail or not healthy enough to get out, they will actually deliver material to them. For many of those folks, that is a lifeline in their regular life that's already quite limited.

Many of them really depend on that service. So when libraries couldn't provide that — it's often done with volunteers; obviously, going into either seniors homes or individual homes, at one point, was really not safe — they were finding other ways to connect with these folks.

They weren't so much new users as they were people that already depend on the library to be their connection to the community. They were more needy than ever before when they couldn't have family members come. They couldn't do their weekly trip to the grocery store. Those other little things that keep them healthy and connected in their community and engaged. We know for seniors a lot of that stimulation is so important.

Often it was being a friendly voice on the other end of the phone, which is not normally a particular role that libraries focus on. But during the pandemic that human connection and those societal links were so essential. Libraries already had that trust, that relationship and that knowledge of community to provide that where it was needed.

J. Kirk: I was just going to step in. Being the mother of five children and the grandmother of 16 beautiful grandchildren, one of the things that I've really appreciated is the fact that the libraries have been creating little packages for the kids and then bringing them out every week, because they haven't been able to come into the library.

[2:50 p.m.]

This has been a huge additional cost to our libraries, where they will put together crafts and books and things for the kids and deliver them to their homes, and then the kids have access to that. So it's kind of like still being able to go to the library, without going to the library. Then they would host a Zoom meeting or a Facebook Live presentation telling them: "This is how you do this craft" and "This is the story that we're focusing on today." So it's really amazing, as far I'm concerned, to see the libraries going above and beyond like that.

I'm not a librarian. I came to the B.C. library world by becoming a volunteer as one of the directors on our library board in Tumbler Ridge, and then I've just kind of grown into this position. So I come at it from a different angle. I see things that maybe a librarian wouldn't see. They're so used to it, and for them, it's just normal. For the normal person, who's just outside of the library looking in, it's like: "Wow. You guys really go above and beyond."

M. Dykeman: Wow. Thank you very much for sharing all of your insight on it. It's really interesting to see your evolving role over time.

H. Sandhu: Thank you to all the presenters.

When we're talking about people at the library going above and beyond, having three children of my own and having to utilize those services, I can attest to that. Everybody does go above and beyond. I've also noticed the roles that libraries played — my local library, as well, in Vernon — during COVID, with online resources.

I have two kids…. They go to French immersion. I didn't learn French growing up. So the online resources that my kids can access…. I can, too, in order to help them with their homework.

Not only that, but I remember, a few years ago, when we were in the Vernon library. My mom was scrolling through the stuff, which I didn't realize. Her eyes just lit up, and she came running to me so happy.

What happened? She found Punjabi books, and she felt that she belonged. First, she thought…. She happened to be with me, and I was going to do my stuff. I didn't realize until then how much difference it did make. She grabbed some books and sat in the corner. Then she ended up borrowing a couple of books, not realizing that, in Canada, there was something that was available to her for all these years. That's why I really appreciate the work you do.

During COVID — not only COVID, the recent heat waves — what libraries have done in many communities, including my own, is provide that cooler, sheltered, safe place for people. Those are just a few examples of the work and the plethora of services that you provide. I just want to thank you and everyone working there.

Kevin, you had mentioned that there were some cuts a few years ago. Can you let us know when that was and how much? How did it impact the services that, as I mentioned, are heavily relied on? What I shared is just a little bit of that going above and beyond and providing services — from little children to seniors and from diverse backgrounds.

Thank you so much.

K. Millsip: Thank you. The high-water mark of provincial funding to public libraries in B.C. was $17 million. We had that for one year, and it was fantastic. Then the subsequent year that was reduced back to $14 million.

When we were just looking at our own work and having conversations about…. I wasn't working in the sector when those cuts were made. That's some time ago now. There are lots of great stories about the difference that additional $3 million made and then what had to be cut back in the subsequent year. So when we're doing our calculations of getting to $22 million, we're going from that high-water mark. Our conversations amongst the sector are….

I think about it like this. When I listen to all these stories…. At a core, all of these stories are about people, about people in communities. I feel like, in my mind, libraries help feed people's emotional and intellectual hunger. We're kind of like warm soup on a cold afternoon. And much like soup, the return the province gets in terms of the investment in public libraries is kind of like borscht. Borscht is really cheap. Borscht is cheap at half the price. I think that's what that saying is.

[2:55 p.m.]

Part of our argument to the province is: think of how much more of people's emotional and intellectual appetites we can help feed with what really is a tiny increase in investment when we look at the full scope of the provincial budget.

I hope that answers your question.

R. Hadziev: I can just speak to…. I've been a librarian for 20 years. So I was around during those cuts. I was head of a department at that time.

I can tell you that what we did that year, and then had to continue doing, was…. In some cases, we stopped buying. Where we would have bought two or three books from a B.C. publisher — they maybe wouldn't have got a lot of attention, but we wanted to support them — we went down to one.

When before I could buy 500 Punjabi books, I could buy 100. I had to start looking at the census and deciding. Even though I know, having worked in Richmond and in Victoria and in a variety of branches, how much that moment means when someone like your mom comes in and sees it, when the going gets tough, we start picking the things that will benefit the most people.

We have to make really tough decisions in those moments. I think we've been doing those cuts every year since, because the money goes less and less far. We cut the number of languages we're going to hold. We cut the number of programs that we might offer otherwise.

H. Sandhu: Thank you, both. It's disheartening to hear how it impacts people, not only people…. It's people who are already, probably, racially marginalized or who are trying to get a sense of belonging. The things people…. The majority won't have an idea of how much difference it does make for them to see that they belong and that they have some resources there that they can use.

The reason I asked…. I think, now that you gave us that it was $17 million and this new ask, it'll really help us to understand, as a committee, when we're considering your request. So I really appreciate it. Thank you.

J. Routledge (Chair): Any other questions?

Okay. Then I will wrap up this panel by thanking you for taking the time to work together to create a picture of the role that libraries play in our communities.

As you were speaking, I was thinking of my own community of Burnaby North. I would say — for sure, for sure — that the library is the heart of that community. It is a magnet. People go there; they do feel like they belong. I must say that I don't think I ever go to that library without having a positive experience, without running into someone I know.

Also, I'm struck by the fact…. In my community, there are 107 different languages spoken. You can only imagine how important the library is in terms of people feeling connected to each other and connected to the community. I guess it's the library that kind of civilizes us.

Thank you for doing that. Thank you for your time.

We will recess until 3:20.

The committee recessed from 2:58 p.m. to 3:19 p.m.

[J. Routledge in the chair.]

J. Routledge (Chair): Our next presenter is Kari Scott-Whyte, CUPE Local 391.

Kari, over to you.

Budget Consultation Presentations


K. Scott-Whyte: Hi. Good afternoon. Thank you, committee and Chair. As you say, my name is Kari Scott-Whyte. I am serving as president of CUPE Local 391. I also serve as one of three regional vice-presidents for CUPE B.C. for the Metro region. I am a library worker, as well, with the Vancouver Public Library.

I'm in the unceded and traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. That's where I am joining you from today.

[3:20 p.m.]

You've heard from some eloquent speakers and passionate advocates for public libraries on the previous panels. I'm also here to talk today about public libraries and the services that our members provide and to amplify, really, the message regarding the need for an increase in what has been over a decade of stagnant funding from the province for public libraries.

Libraries are democratic. Libraries serve the underserved. Libraries foster positive ways of interacting with the world from the time of childhood. Public library systems, as you've already heard, serve multiple provincial priority areas, including economic recovery, making life affordable, connectivity, poverty reduction, reconciliation, accessibility and many other areas of really important social infrastructure.

Our members deliver these services. We serve these priority areas through public programming — in-person and digitally — by enabling access to free and democratic space and through the promotion of open, respectful and sometimes challenging dialogue about the pressing issues and ideas of today.

These institutions of social infrastructure are highly utilized. The workers, our members, are experts at filling these societal gaps.

For many of our neighbours in the communities that we live in and we serve, libraries are not just nice to have. In fact, they are a vital connection to government assistance, to social networks, education, housing and other fundamental supports. Citizens have a right to access these supports in order to participate fully in society.

Library workers everyday are providing the services to connect folks with those supports, particularly folks who are most impacted by widening gaps in today's social fabric, which we have seen highlighted and accentuated over this last year and a half.

The pandemic has intensified and really brought to light inequities that we've talked about for a long time that are built into our current structures. I'm hopeful the committee will recognize the needs here of our neighbours and communities.

I want to speak for a moment or two, as well, in terms of how library workers themselves represent a workforce that bears historical inequities in terms of depressed wages. This is a workforce that is primarily made up of folks who identify as women, over 70 percent. The gender inequities are additionally glaring when you look at what's happened over this past year in terms of layoffs, closures, slow reopenings for systems getting back up and running. It's a sector that relies heavily on precarious workers who work part-time or auxiliary and have reduced access to benefits such as sick pay.

As I've already mentioned before, there's an inherent gender bias in the wage structure. We see this in many of the compensation structures. We're in a region that does not have pay equity legislation, so there are some additional challenges that our workers face in terms of being adequately compensated.

Public library systems have been chronically underfunded. Workers are doing more with less, particularly in the time of crisis, as you've already heard. It really is a matter of equity for library workers and for the patrons that we serve.

You have heard, of course, the ask from ABCPLD and B.C. Public Library Partners and others in terms of advocating for increased budget amounts. CUPE B.C. is certainly on board with that ask — and that the increases be tied to inflation. It's really important that we see that continued investment in the service, moving forward, so that we can continue to deliver these vital services and ensure that the workers who deliver them are supported in that work.

I welcome any questions and turn it back over to the Chair and committee. Thank you.

J. Routledge (Chair): Thank you, Kari.

Any questions?

G. Kyllo: Hi, Kari. Would you mind sharing what is the…? I have no idea what the entry-level wage is for library workers. Could you just bring a bit of context as far as what the entry level is?

[3:25 p.m.]

You also mentioned that library workers are expert at, I think you said, "fulfilling societal gaps." I'm just wondering if you could also maybe share what the educational requirements of library workers are.

K. Scott-Whyte: Sure. So to the wage piece, it does vary, obviously, across the province, dependent on what region you're in.

I'm most familiar with Vancouver, because that is where I work and the numbers that I represent. The city of Vancouver is a living-wage employer in these last few years. So entry level is — I'd have to look up the precise amount — around $21.50. As an hourly wage, perhaps it's reasonable. It is a living wage.

About 50 percent of our workers are part-time or auxiliary. So on an hourly basis, it's a reasonable wage. No guarantee of any particular number of hours a week, and that's a challenge in many library systems. Stable funding contributes directly to the ability for library systems to invest in those full-time, stable kinds of positions.

That's to the wage piece. Then I'm sorry. Your other question was in terms of fulfilling societal gaps and education?

G. Kyllo: Yeah. You'd mentioned that they're experts, I think, at fulfilling societal gaps. I was just wondering what the educational requirement is for library workers and then also if maybe you could just expand a bit on what specifically you're referencing when you're talking about the need to be, I guess, experts at fulfilling these societal gaps and what you're actually referring to there.

K. Scott-Whyte: Sure. Again, there is going to be a range and depending on the system. Smaller systems and larger systems will have differences.

For librarians, it is a master's. So it's a significant investment in education to achieve a master's. There are a paraprofessionals, such as myself. I'm a library technician. That's a diploma program. It is post-secondary. Then there is clerical front line that doesn't have a requirement for post-secondary education but certainly invests in a significant amount of other kinds of training.

Related, in terms of what kinds of gaps, we're talking about connecting newcomers with services, new immigrant services. We are talking about tax assistance, in some cases, and certainly accessing Internet and digital resources. Across the board, all of our workers are continuously learning and investing in that kind of education. Workforce technology, skills development, depending on the system. There may well be programs that are specific about job finding or specific to editing, let's say. Really a wide range there.

G. Kyllo: Great. Thank you very much, and thank you for the service you provide.

J. Routledge (Chair): Other questions?

B. Stewart (Deputy Chair): Kari, thanks very much. Just in following up, you said you work in the Vancouver library system. The Central Okanagan is a very different, because the municipalities got together years ago, and they have the Okanagan Regional Library system, which is a system that's created from probably Sicamous or Shuswap all the way down to the border.

I guess what I'm kind of wondering is: how much of the funding to run the library system in these individual areas…? They're not all the same. I know the Vancouver library is, obviously, a significant investment by the city of Vancouver. I think the province and the feds must have helped contribute to the building. But when it comes to the operating, how significant is the money that the province provides? Can you break that down?

K. Scott-Whyte: Sure. I think some of those specifics around funding might be better directed not necessarily at the union but at the boards and the directors, but I'll do my best in terms of what I do know.

[3:30 p.m.]

The provincial funding has, on average — and this is not specific to Vancouver but on average across the province — reduced from…. It was…. Sorry. The municipalities or districts now make up 80 percent of the funding. In the past, municipalities and districts provided approximately 72 percent. The reduction in that provincial money — municipalities have had to take that on, where they can, to make up for their gap.

As we know right now, municipalities are really struggling. There is less flexibility in terms of how and where they can access funding. The provincial contribution is really, really important. It has reduced over the years, and that has had a direct impact on municipalities and the kinds of services and the level of workforce in systems.

J. Routledge (Chair): Okay, I'm going to ask a quick question myself before we wrap it up. I just want to be clear in terms of….

As you said, we've heard previously about the impact of the funding stagnating and the impact it's had on the number of books that could be purchased. I think you're saying that it's also had an impact on the number of staff that could be hired. You mentioned pay equity. Has it had an impact on your pay?

K. Scott-Whyte: I think that's a more challenging…. That's a less direct answer, I think, because wages are bargained. There are many factors that come into wages, and the equity piece is an additional layer. These have been depressed wages, always. It's historical. That's a complex one in terms of a direct reduction or stagnation.

J. Routledge (Chair): I didn't mean to put you on the spot.

K. Scott-Whyte: No, not at all. But I think, because it is so challenging and complex, we certainly would see that there is a correlation between…. If funding is less and humans make up…. You know, how services are delivered is through humans, and humans need to be compensated appropriately for the work that they do. When that funding is not there, it either means wages are reduced or you have less people doing the same amount of work.

That's a piece I didn't speak to, but the stresses on our front-line workers, the impact on their mental health, on their physical health in terms of having to take on more and more work when there is reduced funding and less ability to provide hours and maintain the level of service, that also is really a direct impact from funding.

J. Routledge (Chair): We have some other people that are going to make presentations. So thank you again for taking the time and talking about the importance of libraries from your perspective and the importance of the work that you do.

Okay, we will go to our next presenter, Peter Bazovský, who is representing Comox Valley Lifelong Learning Centre.

If you're there, Peter, it's all yours.

[3:35 p.m.]


P. Bazovský: Good afternoon, committee members. My name is Peter Bazovský. I am the executive director of the Comox Valley Lifelong Learning Centre.

I'm speaking to you today from the traditional, unceded territories of the K'ómoks and Pentlatch people.

We're a community-based literacy organization that serves Comox, Cumberland, Courtenay and the surrounding areas, including the K'ómoks First Nation's reserve lands and Denman Island.

As a small organization, our funding is reliant on primarily provincial sources. Our core funding is formed by a grant from the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training through the community adult literacy program. We rely on additional funds for literacy outreach coordination, which are provided through Decoda Literacy Solutions on behalf of the province of B.C. The remainder of our $100,000 annual budget is drawn from donations and community fundraisers.

To put it bluntly, we are a very small organization. Three part-time staff and a dedicated pool of 50 to 70 volunteers provide an annual estimated 200 adults with one-to-one tutoring in reading, writing and digital literacy; 150 youth and preteens are served by our after-school homework clubs, literacy workshops and activities; and we reach almost 1,000 families in our area through community activities and events.

As part of our goal of lowering barriers to learning, we embed our programming in public libraries, recovery houses, shelters, seniors homes, outside food banks and community drop-ins. Our referrals come from young parent programs, family services and other such agencies that are working directly with people in the community. We deliver our services as closely as we can to where people need them and where people can most readily access them.

I'm here today to make this committee aware of the need for services like ours, particularly focusing on adult literacy initiatives. Now, regrettably, because I'm a literacy worker, I have no choice but to present this in the form of a narrative. I would encourage you to view this as storytime and to let me explain to you a little bit about what we have been doing during the last year of our COVID pandemic.

On March 17, 2020, just like most organizations and businesses in the province of British Columbia, our agency was forced to close its doors. By March 21, we had reopened as an Internet café offering free computers, printing, scanning and phone access to individuals who did not have these supports available to them.

At the time, this initiative, it was presumed by the staff, would be about reaching people who were marginalized or precariously housed or sleeping outdoors. I am pleased to say that we were able to serve 4,000 distinct individuals in the year basis of keeping that service open. We did everything from applications for CERB, employment insurance, Ministry of Social Development, property tax assessments. We provided facilitation for people to speak to their physicians or family members on an ongoing basis.

Our agency pivoted successfully and provided in-person support on a literacy level, which showed us and, hopefully, shows you the great need for services of this nature in our community. We are primarily reliant on provincial funds, and we're primarily reliant on our core funding through the CALP program. We ask that you please take this into consideration and recognize that literacy matters more than ever and that without these supports community organizations like ours would not be able to deliver the kinds of activities we do to the numbers we reach.

Finally, I have nothing to present to you in terms of documentation. But to be slightly cheeky, because I heard it so much over the last 12 months, I would encourage you to visit our website at www.cvllc.ca. You can easily see all of our programming, view some videos of the kinds of innovations we've provided and see the testament of our work.

Thank you very much. I'm happy to answer any questions you may have.

J. Routledge (Chair): Thank you, Peter.

Do we have any questions for Peter?

[3:40 p.m.]

G. Kyllo: Peter, well, hat's off to you and your staff and your organization. It sounds like an amazing organization you've put together, helping, as you mentioned, 4,000 individuals last year, with a gross budget of only about $100,000. That's definitely deserving of applause. So thank you for all you're doing. I'm certainly looking forward to checking out your website.

M. Starchuk: Thank you, Peter. I don't know how you do it. You might as well be a part-time magician. You just make it happen.

I was struck when you listed off some of the agencies you deal with. Recovery homes are one of the areas that were there. I'm curious on two things. First, I assume that they're licensed or registered within the ALR to become a recovery home. Just what exactly is the service that you're providing to those folks in the recovery home?

P. Bazovský: The services we provide primarily in the recovery houses involve a group that we provide once a week, which is called Writing Out Loud. This is a way for the women who are in recovery…. The house is called Amethyst House, a women's recovery service. It is licensed. That service is designed to allow those women to actually express some of the emotional things they are going through as part of their recovery through the written word.

It's not that we ask them to write a journal. It could be as simple as an activity writing a shopping list and then discussing why you chose the items you did on the shopping list. It's an opportunity for people to use language and literacy, again, to explore themselves. That's part of our encouragement.

The other service we provide is, obviously, we are offering one-to-one tutoring. If someone at a recovery house does request it, that is the first place we will go to meet them. We won't require them to walk through the doors of an agency that says "learning centre" on the front. It's obviously too much of a barrier for most people.

M. Starchuk: Thank you, Peter. The smile I have on my face is large, because I can only imagine that when you go inside that recovery home, it just gives them some other tool to not be thinking about why they're there and helping out in their journey to sobriety. Thank you.

P. Alexis: We have a similar organization in my community, but we don't have the same relationship that you have with these other service organizations.

Can you tell us a little bit about how that came about: the trust factor, working together, privacy issues and all that goes with the clients they serve? Can you just give me a little bit more information? I'd love to take this back to my community.

P. Bazovský: Sure. It became very obvious to us that having a separate office…. I am in an office, obviously. We have a brick-and-mortar building. But having that separate office as a space for us to engage with our community, particularly with the learners we were interested in working with, was extremely complicated. As a result, we ended up in a situation where we tried as hard as possible to embed things outside.

That took effort in terms of developing consent forms, in terms of reaching out and really informing and then developing those relationships, not so much with the management. I am the executive director. I don't wish at all to be disparaging of management. But we weren't developing relationships with management. We ended up developing them with the front-line workers.

We wanted to know who was doing the work and what kind of problems they saw in terms of people being unable to read tenancy agreements, unable to navigate Social Development forms, unable to understand how EI was navigated or the language around EI. We just identified those things, and we took the referrals directly from the front-line staff.

The relationships we built are on that front-line level. I really encourage my staff as much as possible to do all of their relationship-building and all of their outreach with front-line staff, no matter if it's at a drop-in, mental health and substance use or any of the services that we have.

That, I would say, is the first step.

P. Alexis: Thank you so much. Lots to think about.

J. Routledge (Chair): I see no other questions or comments. So on behalf of the committee, Peter, I'd really like to thank you for the work that you do, your vision of community organizing. You referred to your presentation as storytelling time, and you told us a pretty amazing story. So thank you very much.

[3:45 p.m.]

We'll move to our next presenter, who is Cari Lynn Gawletz, Grand Forks and District Public Library.


C. Gawletz: Thank you for inviting me to present to you today. I'm Cari Lynn Gawletz. I'm the library director for the Grand Forks and District Public Library. I'm here today to bring your attention, again, to the importance of sustained provincial support for public libraries.

Last year and the year before, I wrote letters to this committee on this topic, and both years the committee has included a recommendation on increasing funding to public libraries. Since then, unfortunately, nothing has changed. B.C. public libraries are still underfunded, and despite being subject to significant restrictions and regulations put in place by the provincial government, libraries have not seen sustainable financial support at the provincial level.

I know that COVID-19 is going to have long-reaching financial consequences for the provincial government, but any more budget cuts and freezes should not be taking place in the library sector. I mean, you already know that public libraries are incredible resources for their communities. In rural, public libraries are often one of the only places to go and to be inside without buying anything, to access the Internet, to meet and interact with others and to find educational and entertainment opportunities.

The service population for my library is about 9,000 people, and in a normal year, we see about 70,000 in-person visits, we lend 80,000 items, and we have about 6,000 participants in our free programs. Other public services just don't see anywhere near this much use, and yet libraries are the ones that are facing frozen funding. In 2009, public library funding in B.C. was decreased by 25 percent, and it's been frozen at $14 million ever since then. That's 12 years of frozen funding.

Until this year, libraries have been under the Ministry of Education, which has seen regular increases. Why have public libraries not been included in these increases to the Ministry of Education? We're now in the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. Are we going to be lost in the shuffle again here?

Over the last 12 years since funding was frozen, minimum wage has doubled, and our library's labour costs have increased by 45 percent. Labour is our most significant expense, taking up about 60 percent of our total operating budget. With frozen provincial funding, the shortfall here has been made up by cutting our budget for buying books, begging our municipality for larger increases and, this year, laying someone off.

Rural libraries are all facing serious budgetary concerns, as we have to stretch our provincial funding further and further each year. Some of the smallest libraries rely on the province for the bulk of their funding, and so they haven't seen any meaningful budget increases at all for over a decade.

Meanwhile, the public is demanding more and more new and exciting services from us that they hear about from larger urban libraries, which we can't even begin to replicate. Recording studios, makerspaces, virtual reality, 3D printing, robotics — these are largely services we can't even hope to offer, but they're being delivered regularly in urban libraries.

Those libraries are able to hire countless staff with diverse skills. They're able to renovate their spaces. But rural libraries are struggling to stay open three to five days a week for a few hours on each of those days. Their directors are taking on more and more responsibilities. I have taken on bookkeeping, building repairs, advanced IT services. These are not things that I learned when I took my masters of library science.

Lots of B.C. public libraries — in fact, I would say most rural B.C. public libraries — don't have even one professional librarian on staff, because they cannot afford to hire one. They might not even have a library technician on staff, so they have zero professionally trained library staff.

I'm recommending two things for 2022. Firstly, that public library funding is increased with planned inflationary increases in the following years. Secondly, I'm recommending that there be a significant funding differential for rural libraries. It's currently impossible for rural libraries to offer a service equitable to that in urban libraries, and it's unfair to continue to download library funding onto small municipalities if the provincial government is going to continue to heavily regulate the public library sector.

[3:50 p.m.]

Public libraries support so many goals our government has right now — making life more affordable, advancing human rights, supporting economic recovery, etc. — and politicians love to talk about how much they love us, which is great, but it just doesn't pay the bills.

Thank you for your time. Oh, look at that. Two seconds.

J. Routledge (Chair): Thank you, Cari Lynn.

Questions from the committee?

B. Stewart (Deputy Chair): You know what? I just want to make a comment, Cari Lynn. That was a great presentation. Thanks very much for putting it out there so succinctly and in an animated manner.

I know your community, and I know the challenges that local government has had with the flooding. I mean, it just goes on and on. Fortunately, I don't think you have a forest fire that I'm aware of, but anyways, maybe it's…. The Inkaneep one is close by. Anyways, thanks very much, and we'll see what we can do.

J. Routledge (Chair): Anyone else?

Well, I think Ben speaks for all of us. Thank you for your time, and yes, thank you for your animated presentation and your passion. You made it very real.

C. Gawletz: Thank you so much.

J. Routledge (Chair): Our next presenter is Rom Van Stolk, British Columbia Yacht Brokers Association.

Rom, whenever you're ready.


R. Van Stolk: I'm presenting on behalf of the British Columbia Yacht Brokers Association.

To give you some quick background on myself, I've been in the marine industry since 1984. I'm the owner of Custom Yacht Sales and Cedar Grove Marina, and I'm also a partner in Island Sea Farms. We're the largest growers of mussels in the province of B.C. I give you that just because I'm kind of acutely aware of the changes in our environment, with ocean certification and trying to grow aquaculture in the province, working with First Nations and also being in the recreational boat business and owning a marina and dealing with all of that.

I would like to talk to you today about the 10 percent luxury tax that is coming in the budget proposed by the Liberals for 2022. As an agent for the province to collect tax, yacht brokers are collecting the PST portion, the 7 percent, on new boats, and new boats represent a large part of the sales and a huge amount of revenue that is going to come to a crashing halt, I think, as soon as this tax is implemented.

Historically, this luxury tax was put on boats in the United States in 1990, and there was an expectation of a $31 million net revenue. Instead, there was an $8 million tax revenue loss. The tax has also been tried in Norway, Italy and New Zealand, and they were all…. It was a failed experiment every time it was tried.

What we're seeing in our industry is new boat sale orders cancelled. I just got off the phone with Wes, who is with West Bay Yacht Builders in Delta. He recently had a $6.2 million new boat contract, 72 feet — it would have employed 20 individuals for a year and a half — cancelled. Why? Because of the implementation of this new boat luxury tax.

This tax is unfair. It targets individuals in B.C. I ask any one of you to explain to me how it's going to affect somebody in Alberta or Saskatchewan or Manitoba. Even in Ontario, where they have boats, they don't have the high expensive boats that we see here on the coast. They don't have the thousands of miles of coastline where these small communities rely on tourism and people coming in boats.

[3:55 p.m.]

Why should somebody who chooses a new boat be targeted or penalized? What we're finding is that there is no appetite for that additional 10 percent luxury tax. People just refuse to pay it. So what will happen is the province will lose the revenue it presently collects on the PST portion. The government will lose its GST portion, but you will be the biggest losers.

There are other ways to gain revenue provincially. This province should look at a permitting system. It exists already in the state of Washington. That would be kind of a user-pay system that would help with the derelict vessels that are scattered along our coast. There are much better ways than stopping an industry that struggles as it is. We've enjoyed some success. People are spending their money now here because of COVID, but that will all go away.

Another example of a local boat dealer. For each one of the boats that he sells — he sells a boat for $3 million or $4 million — $500,000 is spent after the fact on installations. Those are all local jobs here on the Island and in the Lower Mainland, where systems are installed on those boats, and then there's the constant upkeep and maintenance. So the province really needs to be acutely aware of the fact that it is going to lose not only….

There's going to be negative impact for jobs, firstly. We're going to see that right away, because these people will be laid off from these businesses, no question. We've seen it in the past. There are going to be cancelled orders, and there already are, on boats because people are afraid to have to pay this additional tax.

Starting in January 2022 — that's when it's proposed to come in — you're going to see a huge loss of revenue to the treasury of the province of B.C.

I'm going to conclude with that. I see my time is running out. I thank you very much for listening to me this afternoon. Have a good afternoon.

J. Routledge (Chair): Did you want to take questions?

R. Van Stolk: I'd absolutely love to take some questions.

J. Routledge (Chair): I think I see one question. Megan?

M. Dykeman: Oh, I'm sorry. No, I'm good.

Thank you for your presentation. It was very interesting.

J. Routledge (Chair): Okay. No questions. I guess you were pretty straightforward, pretty clear. Oh, there is one question.

B. Stewart (Deputy Chair): Rom, you mentioned that there's a federal Liberal proposed tax. Of course, you know that this committee doesn't control that, but I understand the impact on the provincial treasury. So that's your point, is it?

R. Van Stolk: Yes. It definitely will affect…. There's no other tangible item in the province of B.C. that has the value that boats do that you guys can collect tax on which is sold and resold. Even though this is on new boats only, every new boat becomes a used boat. I have sold many boats that started off new, over and over again, and each time I'm collecting 7 percent on behalf of the province.

That's going to stop when this tax is implemented. So if there's any way for your to reach out and explain to the feds that this is going to negatively impact the treasury of B.C. Why B.C.? Why pick on B.C.? How is it going to affect Alberta's treasury? How's it going to affect these other provinces? It's not. It's going to negatively impact the province of B.C., and that's what I'm here today to tell you.

J. Routledge (Chair): Okay. Thank you very much for sharing that with us. We'll take that into consideration.

R. Van Stolk: Thank you all very much.

J. Routledge (Chair): Our next presenter is Robert Germain, B.C. Association of Broadcasters.

Robert Germain, we're ready for you.


R. Germain: Good afternoon, committee members. Thank you for this opportunity to speak to you today.

My name is Rob Germain. I am general manager of CHEK Media Group, but I'm speaking to you in my other role as president of the British Columbia Association of Broadcasters. There are more than 115 private radio and television broadcasters in B.C., directly employing nearly 2,000 British Columbians.

[4:00 p.m.]

As broadcasters, we've never before appeared at this committee, but the last 18 months have proven to be extraordinary for our province and our industry. COVID-19 changes in the retail environment and the rapid growth in digital advertising alternatives threaten broadcasters' future in this province.

Communities in every corner of B.C. are well served by private radio and television stations. In addition, Indigenous Peoples and ethnic communities can rely on local broadcasters conveying news and information relevant to them and often in their own languages. From local news and pandemic health briefings to wildfire evacuation advisories and AMBER alerts, B.C. broadcasters perform a vital service, but a lot of this is at risk as many stations now struggle to survive.

We believe that the province of British Columbia can play a pivotal role in protecting local voices and local content by offering broadcasters the same financial incentives as it offers others in the creative industry. A labour tax credit for employees delivering news and information would act as a lifeline for this important industry.

Before I get into more details on the challenges we face and on our proposed solution, let me offer you a bit more background on the broadcasting industry in B.C. Private radio and television, conventional stations, play a vital role in providing a trusted source of news and community information.

Nowhere is that more evident than during the COVID-19 pandemic, with many of our members broadcasting live updates from Dr. Bonnie Henry and countering, through news reports, the misinformation frequently spread on social media. During the devastating wildfire season, local broadcasters have been at the forefront, informing communities of our latest dangers and evacuations. Our efforts are immediate; they are factual and essential.

Our members are often the hub of communities and are critical to the rebound in our economy. They provide a critical service in large cities and small towns, and they are especially vital for ethnic communities. In a multicultural province like British Columbia, where 30 percent of the population immigrated from another country, ethnic radio and television stations act as a cultural lifeline, broadcasting in Punjabi, Mandarin, Cantonese and a host of other languages. If one of these broadcasters is displaced, an entire ethnic community will be affected.

B.C. broadcasters still enjoy strong viewership and listenership, but the COVID crisis has dramatically reduced the advertising revenue models. This has been exacerbated by inequitable taxation and regulation of online media giants. Google, Facebook and YouTube are eating up a larger share of advertising budgets, yet they don't pay the same taxes, they don't employ British Columbians, and they won't be sponsoring your child's sports teams.

We believe there is a solution. A labour tax credit for the creation of made-in-B.C. content can help stations survive, keep local economies strong and preserve these important community voices. This would be similar to the economic incentives already offered to B.C.'s film and video industries but which currently exclude news and public affairs from eligibility.

We have an analysis estimating the value of this at $18 million a year. That's not a bailout or a gift. Just as with movie production, it is an incentive to broadcasters to keep British Columbia's content creators employed in the long term. It's about protecting jobs, enhancing the creation of news and information, and strengthening geographic and ethnic communities.

In conclusion, as a result of the challenges I've mentioned, a leading media economics firm is predicting the closure of dozens of Canadian radio and television stations over the next two years. But it doesn't have to be that way. Given the value of local broadcasting to our democracy, our economy and the cultural fabric of this province, we believe a labour tax credit merits consideration. Those jobs, and the diversity of editorial voices, strengthen our communities. If they are lost now, they will be lost forever. Thank you for listening.

J. Routledge (Chair): Thank you, Rob.

Do we have any questions from the committee?

L. Doerkson: Thank you very much, Rob. I guess I have a couple of questions. You mentioned, a number of times, tax credits, and I think you referred to film and television. Can the TV stations existing not access those credits now?

[4:05 p.m.]

R. Germain: Directly, for the most part, no. Specifically with regard to news production and public affairs, they are excluded, I assume, because of the fact — for the most part, for broadcasters — that it's a condition of licence to produce those types of programs.

That worked when it was profitable to be in broadcasting, but many of our radio stations and television stations are losing money and even before COVID were losing money. It's no longer sustainable to be producing that type of programming without some sort of assistance.

L. Doerkson: Okay. Madam Chair, a second question.

As a layperson to this — I mean, I've had some experience in the print business — is this not all federally regulated? How does the province have skin in this game?

R. Germain: Well, yes. Broadcasters are federally regulated and licensed.

Those licences, by the way, mean that broadcasters are Canadian-owned, that they have to abide by codes of conduct, that they have to provide fair coverage in their news programming — that they're accountable. Those are all important things. Other media are not regulated in the same way, but we do not receive federal wage tax credits. The federal tax credit for journalism goes to daily newspapers and to some qualifying digital organizations, but broadcasters are specifically excluded.

L. Doerkson: Broadcasters are excluded from those federal programs completely?

R. Germain: Correct. Yes.

J. Routledge (Chair): Do we have other questions?

M. Starchuk: Thank you for your presentation, Rob.

I'm acutely aware of what happened when the pandemic first hit. With all the restaurants and businesses simply closed, there was no reason for them to do any kind of advertising, which all of that industry relies heavily on for that.

You made a comment that if we don't save them now, they'll be lost, then. What kind of a time frame are we looking at? Are we at the point where you're just hanging on and that this is a lifeline to kind of let it go for a little while? Or is this perpetual?

R. Germain: It's not just COVID. It is a trend in the industry where, across Canada, 70 percent of conventional television stations are in a losing money position. Fifty percent of the radio stations in this province, even before COVID, were losing money. The CAB, the national organization similar to the BCAB, has predicted there'll be dozens of stations closing in the next two years.

B. Stewart (Deputy Chair): Rob, thanks very much for that.

Okay, so what's changed? I mean, you touched on the fact that social media…. Can you be more specific? I'm just not really certain. I know that people are certainly very active on social media, but when it comes to trusted news sources and stories and stuff like that, I take social media with a grain of salt.

I'm just kind of wondering what is changing. And what can the industry do besides finding a subsidy system or something like that? What's the long-term solution to make it so it can stand on its own two feet?

R. Germain: So that broadcasters can stand on their own two feet?

B. Stewart (Deputy Chair): Yep.

R. Germain: Well, the broadcasting industry is built on the advertising model. And that is a crucial fact, here — that it is free. What broadcasters produce is free over the air. That includes television. All you need is an antenna to receive over the air or, in fact, many stations like CHEK….

We today just launched our CHEK+ over-the-top service, which is available without a subscription. So that's free. It's not behind a paywall. You don't need a subscription.

We're providing trusted news and information. As I say, that is…. We uphold codes of conduct, practice standards and to the Canadian broadcast regulatory authority. But all that will be lost if broadcasters can't sustain the programming that they're doing.

All we're looking for is similar to what…. B.C. has its own made-in-B.C. film and video credit in addition to the federal tax credits that are available. We've seen what a difference that makes in British Columbia, creating Hollywood North in Vancouver and even here on Vancouver Island — film production that is very robust because of those tax credits.

[4:10 p.m.]

They're incentives. It's not a subsidy. It's not a bailout. I think that it makes sense that broadcasters, which are performing a democratic service — right now we're in the middle of a federal election; those broadcasters are providing that public good — also receive the same types of benefits that you're providing to foreign filmmakers that are coming to B.C.

B. Stewart (Deputy Chair): Are there any other jurisdictions providing what you're asking for? Does it exist elsewhere?

R. Germain: Well as I've said, there's a federal labour tax credit that broadcasters are exempt from. To my knowledge, I don't know of any other provincial body that is providing labour tax credits for broadcast news and information production. B.C. would be the first, but B.C. was, again, ahead of the curve in film subsidies and film incentives, and it's paid dividends.

J. Routledge (Chair): We have one more question from Greg, and then I think we'll need to move on to our next presenter.

G. Kyllo: More of a comment.

I certainly appreciate the services that your organizations provide to British Columbia. What you're asking for is really about retention. Government is great, and it's been very successful, obviously, with the film tax credits and trying to attract business and industry to British Columbia. But in the instance of your guys' industry sector, it is shrinking, and you're losing jobs left, right and centre. So I think what you've asked for is definitely reasonable, and I certainly would encourage government to give strong consideration to what you're asking for.

Failing to provide those necessary supports, we'll just continue to see job losses. I can see five, ten years from now, people looking back and thinking that with a little bit of dollars, or a little bit of funding, we could have actually helped to protect this very important industry that provides the important, fact-based information that we all rely on. Thank you very much for your presentation.

R. Germain: Thank you very much. Yes, even if stations don't close, you're right — the cutting back of jobs, hollowing out, using network programming where they used to have local voices and local information. We're already seeing the erosion there, even before stations are closing.

J. Routledge (Chair): With that, Rob, we'll wrap it up. Thank you very much for bringing this to our attention.

Speaking for myself, I think I did know that the broadcasting industry — the news industry — was facing challenges. You've certainly made it clear just how serious a crisis it is, and you've proposed a concrete solution. I think we'll have more conversations about it as a committee, in terms of what we can do to support you.

We'll go to our next presenter, who is Carolyn Tuckwell, BGCBC.


C. Tuckwell: Thank you for having me. Thanks for the opportunity to present today about boys and girls clubs here in British Columbia and the exciting year ahead.

I'll just jump right in. A little bit of background. Boys and girls clubs across B.C. provide vital programs and services to nearly 48,000 children, youth and families in 101 locations across the province each year. For over 80 years, clubs in British Columbia have opened their doors to children, youth and families in small towns, large cities and across rural communities. If a young person needs it, our clubs aim to provide it during their out-of-school hours.

Clubs provide early years school-aged programs at all purpose-built facilities within schools and in many community locations, based on the community needs, across this province. High-quality early learning and child care and before- and after-school programs for both children and youth are at the foundation of boys and girls clubs work.

Clubs support those who are at greatest risk. We focus on neighbourhoods where we know families are more likely to struggle, and especially those in vulnerable communities — Indigenous and racialized children, newcomer youths, children with disabilities and low-income families.

[4:15 p.m.]

A strong child care program strengthens the accessibility of high-quality programs. It drives down the cost for families that need it most, and it improves staff recruitment and retention and supports parents and caregivers, especially women, to get back to work, which, of course, we all know is more important than ever. Boys and girls clubs are here to deliver those kinds of programs in support of families, while we also provide the most enriching possible programs and opportunities for kids during their out-of-school hours.

The recreational category within child care is brand-new. I expect that maybe some of you are not even necessarily all that familiar with it. Here, in particular in Boys and Girls Clubs of South Coast B.C., we are incredibly excited about this new development, because, in fact, this new model of recreational care within the community care facilities legislation and regulations and is really capturing the model that we have offered here to more than 3,000 children, youth and families each year across the Lower Mainland.

As we recognize that child care is critically important in the lives of kids and families, we know that early years and high-quality child care are critically important for kids up until they enter school. We also know that parents continue to need high-quality support for programs after the school dismissal bell rings.

Clubs welcome this new opportunity to provide a recreational care model, which really is something that we've perfected here in Boys and Girls Clubs of South Coast B.C. over the last many years. We've worked closely with licensing within the Ministry of Health on the establishment of this new category and are looking forward to moving through the licensing process which is now underway.

This category really is reflective of offering families choice that meets their needs on a highly flexible basis while also ensuring high-quality levels of programs but also oversight. Really, what we're able to bring to life through this model is a drop-in model that allows families to access the programs as they're needed.

The reason that I'm here today is to talk about the opportunity to work with the province around a pilot of funding for this new model. We're ready and able to continue this model within south coast B.C. and are anxious to work on a pilot of funding in order to support the extension of this model through other boys and girls clubs across the province. Then we anticipate, also, it being highly applicable to other youth-serving organizations who are interested in bringing this model to life as well.

That's my presentation. It really is a proposal to work with you around a potential funding model that would be a pilot for future use.

J. Routledge (Chair): Okay. Thank you, Carolyn.

Do we have any questions from the committee?

L. Doerkson: Hi, Carolyn. First off, I support the boys and girls club. I was supposed to be in a water fight against the RCMP last week with our local boys and girls club in Williams Lake. It was cancelled, unfortunately, due to COVID, but I know we'll get them next year.

Can you tell me a little bit more about the pilot project? What does that look like?

C. Tuckwell: Here in south coast B.C., we have actually been working with this model for many years and, as I said, working with licensing and the Ministry of Health to create the new category to really have this model be something that is accessible to other organizations to offer.

The model itself is a drop-in model for children between six and 18, so really from grades 1 through 12. It's highly flexible self-directed programming that is developmentally appropriate and allows children access to opportunities based on their choice around how they spend their time during their out-of-school hours, with a focus, in particular, on after the school bell rings at the end of the day. It isn't a before-school program.

[4:20 p.m.]

We really recognize that the government of British Columbia is already investing, really in major ways, in this age group of children between the ages of six and 18. We appreciate that where child care already exists as an option for families, this is the addition of a new model that is more flexible and on a drop-in basis.

We appreciate that a pilot, which we would welcome the opportunity to work on and develop with the government, could right-size the investment available for children to access this in the right dosage and for the right intensity and duration over their school career, so that in their out-of-school time they'd have a place at their local club to engage with and perhaps also, depending on opportunities in community, access other available options.

It's not a one-size-fits-all model. We appreciate that attaching a dollar value to it is going to be complex, and we are up for that challenge. In our model, we have self-funded our programs for all of the years. We appreciate that being in an urban centre has allowed us to do that, but we really understand that there's a lot of complexity going into this, as the government potentially considers funding this model as another option within the child care categories that now are regulated.

Does that give you a picture of the proposal? It's not incredibly detailed yet because we appreciate the complexity around potentially attaching dollars to something that is not like an existing child care funding subsidy.

L. Doerkson: Yeah, it definitely helps. I will definitely do what I can to support your program. They've done incredible work throughout the province, but I've seen it for certain in Williams Lake. It's an incredible program.

C. Tuckwell: That's great. Thank you for the question.

G. Kyllo: Thank you, Carolyn, for your presentation. Do you have any numbers on what the approximate cost is per hour of care — or I guess supervision — that you provide for children currently? Is it $5 an hour? Is it $10 an hour? Is it $2 an hour? Do you have any idea of the magnitude of the actual cost per hour for children in one of your programs?

C. Tuckwell: Off the top of my head, I don't have an hourly rate. What I am able to tell you definitively from our experience is that the average cost of supporting a child to participate in our model for a year is $1,200. Then we work backwards. Children attend a variety of periods of time over the course of a week and then over the course of the year. In our experience, it is an affordable option to deliver these programs and services.

I would be happy to do those numbers and provide a follow-up for you, to give you that kind of information, if that would be useful.

G. Kyllo: That would be very helpful. I guess the other question I have…. You've referenced this pilot. Have you established a dollar figure to what it might be to actually provide and undertake this pilot project?

C. Tuckwell: The pilot that I'm referring to is really a proposal around a pilot around funding, not around the program. The program is something that's been in operation in our organization for many years — again, under the watchful eye of the ministry as we worked with them to develop this new model of care. We have, in South Coast B.C., always funded this ourselves.

We haven't proposed a dollar value because we're conscious of the fact that a drop-in model is one that would need a different type of funding model than, for example, a traditional child care funding arrangement between either a family and the ministry around the subsidy or an organization around its funding of the regulated child care program.

G. Kyllo: Okay, so there's not a specific dollar ask. It's just you're asking for the opportunity to work with government to try and flesh out and establish what a program may be.

Great. Thank you very much. I'm looking forward to receiving that additional information.

[4:25 p.m.]

H. Sandhu: Thank you, Carolyn. I personally really like the boys and girls club program. I have many friends and family members who benefited. Personally, too, raising my daughters by myself for years, I knew that there was a backup when I needed it.

I know that you also provide transportation to kids, which not many child care centres or other programs do provide. In the pilot program, would that be included? Because I know that transportation is already challenging for many parents, whether it's the personal mode of transportation or even the cuts to these school buses as well. I think that's the key, and it's very crucial. So I'm just curious if that will be included for the families who cannot afford to have transportation.

Thank you.

C. Tuckwell: That's a great question, and you're quite right. Transportation is a critical issue, and each boys and girls club organization across the province has its own arrangements in place. I do think that that is part of the complexity that we want to work through in order to come to an arrangement that would make sense.

For clubs that are in areas where children are within walking distance, oftentimes the arrangement is a walking school bus, where staff are at the school when the school bell rings and walk the children safely back to the club, whether it's a couple of blocks or maybe a little bit longer. So that certainly is an economical way that we address that.

Most organizations do have vehicles that we operate to transport children, and, in my experience, typically that is included in whatever the fee is for the program. So it is always our intention to go to the extent of inclusion and accessibility, which we appreciate is including transportation. We know that in some rural areas, that may in fact increase. So I believe that that typically is a core part of most boys and girls clubs' offerings and what we would look at.

H. Sandhu: Thank you. I really appreciate that, and I do know that staff at boys and girls clubs do go above and beyond. In my community, they do have vehicles.

I think that's the challenge I hear from most parents — and usually single parents. They will be at work until whenever — either it's shift work or longer shifts — and they want to access this service, but who will pick their child up and drop them off? And that's been very, very helpful. However the staff manage, I've received very positive feedback. That puts away that barrier — one barrier — for parents to access this exceptional service. So that's why I asked.

Thank you. I appreciate it.

C. Tuckwell: Well, I appreciate the question so much, because I think that as we've seen this new category established, we're excited because it does in fact introduce a new kind of option and new choice for families that's highly flexible and accessible and proven across the communities that we're in.

The opportunity to work on a funding pilot also dramatically increases the opportunity for us to expand, dramatically, what we're doing out of the organizations that we're already operating. And we're really excited about that because of the things you've just spoken about. We know we can do more for so many more families.

H. Sandhu: Absolutely. Thank you. You are making a difference — and everybody working there. Just so you know, there's so much positive feedback out there. It means a lot to a lot of families. Thank you.

J. Routledge (Chair): Well, I think that is a wonderful note on which to end this particular presentation.

Carolyn, we've had a long day of presentations, and we still have one more. But at this point, to actually have this kind of discussion about such an important way…. We have been so fixated on establishing a child care system, and this is such an important part of that in terms of families that need occasional help. So we really look forward to finding a way to integrate what you're talking about.

Thank you so much.

C. Tuckwell: Thank you so much for your time and attention. It's been an honour to speak today.

J. Routledge (Chair): Our final presenter today is Shelley Frost from the Pacific National Exhibition, the PNE.

[4:30 p.m.]


S. Frost: Thank you, everybody. Thanks for taking the time to hear from the PNE today as you consider the pillars of your upcoming provincial budget.

First, I want to offer our team's heartfelt thanks to the B.C. government for the financial support given to major anchor attractions like the PNE earlier this summer and for the support of fairs, festivals and events that was announced last week. These are really important foundations for our industry as we build back from the pandemic.

Now, just a few reminders about who we are here at the PNE. We are a 111-year-old non-profit that operates 365 days a year. We run the annual PNE fair, Playland amusement park, and we host over 1,000 event-days a year in music festivals, sport, culture, trade, film and community events.

Leading up to 2020, we were financially stable and investing in the future. In fact, we had three of our best financial years on record just prior to COVID. We directly employ 4,300 staff, with 97 percent of those being unionized. We are the largest employer of youth in the province, and we provide very important low-barrier-to-entry jobs for people with disabilities and from diverse communities, as well as highly skilled trades.

In a normal operating year, we generate between $55 million and $60 million a year in revenue. We invest millions back into the community, and our events are responsible for providing a $200 million economic impact to the region. We draw guests from all corners of the province, and over 75 percent of our PNE guests annually come from outside Vancouver.

What are we asking you for today? I'm going to get straight to the ask. As you develop this unique, post-COVID budget, we ask for your support in four key areas to ensure that COVID recovery momentum is not lost.

First, to ensure the long-term financial recovery of the music and arts and culture industry, the PNE is proud to be building on the success of Creative B.C.'s Amplify B.C. strategy by building critical infrastructure to support the recovery and sustainability of B.C.'s music, arts and culture industries.

This past June Vancouver city council approved the PNE to invest $65 million to redevelop a world-class outdoor amphitheatre right here at the PNE. That step was solidly supported by industry leaders, performers and promoters from across the province.

The PNE is requesting a contribution of $25 million, shared between the province and the federal government, with the PNE and the city investing the remaining $40 million. Several MPs have already indicated strong federal support for this project. We just need to now bring the province to the table for discussions as well.

This new amphitheatre is critical. It fills a huge venue gap in the Lower Mainland, it increases access to arts, culture and will significantly increase musical performances while also supporting the PNE's long-term financial recovery. As part of this infrastructure, we are also investing in renewable energy that will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 520 tonnes a year through the addition of solar energy and electrification in this new venue.

Our second point today is that in order to ensure the long-term financial recovery from COVID, the PNE requests the continuation of the funding mechanisms that have already been put in place by Tourism in 2021 — the major anchor attractions program; and the fairs, festivals and events recovery fund. We ask that those be made available, even in a tapering manner, for 2022 and 2023. These are incredible operational lifelines for both ourselves and our peers as we build back to normal operations, but we're not there yet.

Third, for the first time, the PNE is requesting consideration from the Ministry of Agriculture to support our role as a provincial leader in ag education. Through participatory programming like Kidz Discovery Farm, the Journey of B.C. Food exhibit, our Farm Country displays or the largest 4-H festival in B.C., we bring urban guests and rural producers together like nowhere else.

The PNE fair has had its revenues reduced by $45 million over the past two years since COVID hit, and without support from a ministry like Ag, we'll be unable to continue investing the millions we do in these non-revenue-generating ag programs until we're back on our feet. We really need Ag support to help fill this gap for the next couple years.

Lastly, the PNE requests access to provincial funding streams that we've not had access to in the past or that there have been barriers for our participation that we'd like to see removed.

First is the tourism events program, the TEP funding from which we've never been granted funding in the past, although we generated 180,000 tourism visits every year, and we're responsible for $1.7 million in hotel-night spending every year.

We'd also like to request access to the community gaming grants from which we've been excluded. This program has a series of criteria that are built for traditional non-profits, and we just don't fit that mould. Specifically there, we're just asking for flexibility in those criteria.

[4:35 p.m.]

Now, how can the PNE support the province back? We generate over 600 million social media impressions annually, and I think, as we've all seen in the last year, mainstream media is eager to tell our stories loudly and often. We would be thrilled to use those tools to support your government's investment in the PNE and all the good we do.

Thank you for your time. I'd be happy to take some questions.

J. Routledge (Chair): Thank you, Shelley.

P. Alexis: Thank you so much.

Can you tell me what the capacity of the world-class amphitheatre is going to be, please?

S. Frost: Yeah. The maximum capacity will be 10,000, but we're building it out in a way that it will be scalable for performances of all sizes. So it will be able to accommodate smaller capacities of 1,500 and anything up to 10,000. That's what we've heard from promoters, that that's the sweet spot that they need.

P. Alexis: So you need some flexibility. Is there retractable roofing at all?

S. Frost: The roofing may not necessarily be retractable, but it will definitely still feel like an outdoor venue. It will have roofing covered to extend our season so that it can be used for 12 months of the year.

P. Alexis: Okay. Thank you so much.

M. Dykeman: Thank you for your presentation, Shelley.

I know 4-H — I spent many years at the PNE — and all the fantastic programming and opportunities that you put on for the youth as a leader. I know that each year 4-H youth look forward to the programming that's offered there and the opportunity to come together and stay. I know this year has been a bit different, as was last year.

Does the ag support that you're looking for…? Can you expand a bit on that? How are you seeing that including the 4-H programming and all the other programming that goes on in the other weeks? What's, sort of, your vision with that ag support?

S. Frost: Yes. Thanks for asking.

The 4-H festival is a big component. It's the first four days of the fair, but it's about a $250,000 investment on behalf of the PNE. Then there are a number of other programs that we put on that run the full 17 days. Those would be things like the Journey of B.C. Food. That would be our Farm Country displays. That would be our interactive Kidz Discovery Farm that takes 25,000 kids through each year or our demonstrative cooking displays with local producers.

The 4-H festival is about $250,000, and all of those other programs combined are about another $450,000.

J. Routledge (Chair): Any other questions?

L. Doerkson: Just clarity around the numbers that you introduced. If I caught it right, you were looking for a $25 million commitment from the province, and that would be split with the federal government, and then $40 million from the cities.

S. Frost: The venue itself will be a $65 million investment, and we're asking for $25 million to be split between the province and the feds. Then the PNE and the city will come together and pay the remaining $40 million.

We originally anticipated paying all $65 million, but COVID has hit us hard, just like everybody else, and in order to make this venue a reality for long-term COVID recovery and music industry strength, it's really important that we get this venue up and running.

L. Doerkson: Just a follow-up to that. You added one more little bit of question for me. Is the city committed to it yet?

S. Frost: Yes, it was approved at city council in June of 2021. So just a couple of months ago.

B. Stewart (Deputy Chair): Thank you, Shelley.

Just to get a bit of an order of magnitude on these other…. Besides the $25 million split, which we don't know whether that's 50-50, what type of support are you looking for from the Minister of Agriculture to run the programs you talked about?

You talked about the tourism program and community grants. What are the numbers that you have? What's percolating away in your financial service divisions?

S. Frost: Thanks. When we talk about the two programs that were administered by Tourism this year, the major anchor attractions, that was up to $1 million for major anchor attractions. Then they also announced support for fairs, festivals and events, and that maxes out at $250,000.

Those two pieces…. If they could continue that program for the next couple of years to help both us and all of our industry colleagues get through coming out of COVID, that would be fantastic.

[4:40 p.m.]

Our agricultural investment, as we just spoke about, is $800,000. There are other parts that we will continue to be able to invest in, but we are asking the Ministry of Ag for $800,000.

The other two programs that we spoke of, which are the community gaming grants and TEP funding…. Each of those programs has a maximum of $250,000.

J. Routledge (Chair): Any other questions? Okay. Well then, I'll wrap it up by thanking you for making such a clear and high-energy presentation. The PNE is my neighbour.

S. Frost: I love that.

J. Routledge (Chair): My grandson is working there right now in Playland.

S. Frost: Oh, good. I'm so thrilled to hear that.

J. Routledge (Chair): Most of the family has worked there at some point in their life. It's a big part of our community.

S. Frost: I think that's one of my favourite things. Everybody has a connection to us. It is a fair day. I look out my window, and I see everything happening, so I'm sure I'll see your grandson out there somewhere.

J. Routledge (Chair): I won't tell you exactly where, or he'll kill me.

S. Frost: Thank you. I appreciate very much your time today.

J. Routledge (Chair): Bye-bye.

Motion to adjourn.

Motion approved.

J. Routledge (Chair): Thank you. See you tomorrow.

The committee adjourned at 4:41 p.m.


NOTICE: This is a DRAFT transcript of proceedings in one meeting of a committee of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. This transcript is subject to corrections and will be replaced by the final, official Hansard report. Use of this transcript, other than in the legislative precinct, is not protected by parliamentary privilege, and public attribution of any of the proceedings as transcribed here could entail legal liability.