Ensuring all the bits of the picture fit together

In this week's Wakatipu Echo, Lakes Leisure Limited communications manager Rachelle Greene looks at the issues involved in balancing community needs with revenue generation and the need for effective communication.

Lakes Leisure is a council-owned, not-for-profit organisation charged with delivering sport and leisure services to the community while managing community-owned venues and facilities in a way that reduces the financial burden of facility ownership on the ratepayers. The company was set up in 2008 and has worked proactively since with clubs and organisations, particularly around the challenge of competing demands for limited resources. Alpine Health and Fitness is the newest arm of Lakes Leisure Limited. The gym was completed as part of the original plan for Alpine Aqualand but, unlike the pool, it is a stand-alone business and is not ratepayer-funded. Alpine Health and Fitness is funded completely through the support of its members and casual users. Substantial funds that support our facilities are generated through events and venue hire. This is a key area for Lakes Leisure as we work to reduce our reliance on ratepayers by generating cash through hiring venues such as the Queenstown Events Centre to commercial entities.

However, this comes at a cost to the community through restricting access to facilities when an event, such as the recent Trenz, takes over the Queenstown Events Centre venue. We hope the community can understand this is the price of a small community enjoying a high-quality facility hub - there are wider economic benefits to be considered and the Queenstown Events Centre is often the only venue in the district with the capacity to host certain events. Conflicts will still occur and we understand it is frustrating when games are cancelled or you can't find a car park easily.

Communication with regular users has greatly helped build understanding and appreciation for the bigger picture. And at the end of the day, it is such a fantastic facility!We also capture and represent community views on issues around the future of our sport and recreation facilities and make sure these views are presented to the council. We have recently submitted to the council for its consideration a Master Facilities Planning document.

This document was a huge effort produced in conjunction with sports groups and users of the facilities we manage and Lakes Leisure will now work with the council to ensure the community's views are well considered and represented within sport and leisure facility planning for the future. Lakes Leisure's objective is to enhance the quality of lifestyle in the Lakes district through sport and recreation.

This means we actively contribute to the achievement of community outcomes within the Long Term Council Community Plan 2009-2019. In particular: A safe and healthy community that is strong, diverse and inclusive for people of all age groups and incomes and effective and efficient infrastructure that meets the needs for growth.

Our numbers give us confidence we are contributing to those outcomes: Last financial year, overall visitor numbers for all facilities and sports grounds throughout the district reached 501,142. As the current financial year draws to an end, all indications are that this will greatly increase.

A big effort is made to ensure we keep our communities up to date with information about the facilities and opportunities on offer, from teaching your children to swim through to publicising events taking place at our venues and consulting on issues. You can easily find us online; sign up for our newsletter or join our conversations on Facebook.

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