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Coquitlam OK's resident-priority registration for rec programs

Coquitlam council OK’s early registration for city residents.
Coquitlam residents can get early registration to the city's recreation programs starting in November 2023. | Imgorthand/E+/Getty Images

Coquitlam residents will be able to get first pick to sign up for recreation programs, starting in November.

Last week, council-in-committee spoke about the new registration system that’s aimed at giving Coquitlam residents priority access to swimming, skating and other programs — 48 hours in advance.

During the pandemic, the cities of Port Coquitlam, New Westminster and Burnaby offered priority access to their residents and was well received, said Jennifer Keefe, Coquitlam’s director of community recreation and culture services, at the June 12 meeting.

Coun. Craig Hodge hopes the new system will ease the waitlists for Coquitlam residents wanting to get themselves or their kids in a rec program: About 75 per cent of registered participants hail from Coquitlam but, on average, 73 per cent of Coquitlam residents are on waitlists.

“There’s such a demand for programming today,” Coun. Brent Asmundson added, noting his daughter’s struggles to secure recreational programming for her children. “They’re missing out.”

The difficulty to get into Coquitlam programs was a complaint during the election campaign last year, Coun. Matt Djonlic said.

And when residents are able to grab a spot, it is “almost like hitting the lottery. The demand is through the roof,” he said.

“Our residents paid to build these facilities. They pay to operate these facilities. And they deserve to have priority for these facilities.”

Still, while Mayor Richard Stewart voted in favour of the policy, he said priority registration isn’t something he wanted to do.

He warned about unintended consequences, especially for seniors not living in Coquitlam but who depend on the city services to stay active, and for Port Moody residents who don’t have a civic indoor pool.

The priority registration, he argued, will benefit Coquitlam residents, “but not society in general.”

Keefe said city staff met with seniors advisory boards and neither expressed concerns, saying the policy “made sense.”

However, Coun. Trish Mandewo raised a flag about outside residents using a Coquitlam address to gain early admission.