While the annual Clarenville Area Recreation Association (CARA) awards did not go ahead as planned this past spring, town recreation manager Brandon Reardon said there will still be 2019 recipients before the year is out.
Reardon told The Packet there’s been a lack of interest in the awards for the past several years.
This past spring, the award ceremony was postponed after only receiving a handful of nominations — not enough to fill every award. This was despite adding a $500 draw prize for nominees to encourage participation. They also developed an online nomination form and streamlined the process.
With forms going out late, however, there was little take-up.
“School was over, that was a big thing,” Reardon explained.
“The committee made a decision that they wanted to get the word out to the public that without the support, the awards couldn’t continue the way it is.”
However, this doesn’t mean the awards will be eliminated or not promoted in the future. The awards go back nearly 50 years and it’s not something the community wants to lose, says Reardon.
So, he says they’ll be distributing the awards to deserving athletes and individuals before the end of the year, to ensure 2019 won’t be a blank year in the lineage.
“The last thing we want to do is, 10 or 20 years down the road, somebody comes by and looks at the plaque with an asterisk saying there was no awards held that year. Well, why not? We’ve got plenty of great athletes.”
While the awards themselves are seen as an important community staple they want to continue, Reardon says the structure and purpose of CARA itself is being looked at for the future. It’s already had some significant changes.
The committee’s chair and vice-chair recently resigned and there are no volunteers currently in those roles.
Reardon says they’re still planning to meet with the remaining committee to discuss how CARA might change or stay the same.
He says, in his opinion, there still needs to be a CARA for a couple major reasons: the CARA summer program and for funding application purposes.
“A lot of our programs run on government funding and there needs to be a non-profit identity to apply and get 100 per cent funding for a lot of stuff. CARA summer program is a prime example. We’re getting funding of upwards of $40,000 to 50,000 a year for students (jobs), whereas if we were to apply through the town we would get only 50 per cent of that.”
The CARA summer program was very successful this past season and Reardon says it’s a worthwhile program expected to become more popular over the next few years.
For six weeks, the town hires 15 to 17 camp leaders to run a physical activity program for kids. It runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.
Reardon also sees how CARA can be streamlined with the town’s recreation department in the future.
In many cases, CARA recreation events see town money transferred to the association to pay for expenses or work done by town employees.
“It’s just unnecessary,” said Reardon. “It’s all town workers maintaining the parks and playgrounds and that kind of stuff.”
The division with CARA and the rest of recreation for the town became more pronounced when the Eastlink Events Centre was opened in 2009, separating the two town entities further.
“Personally, I think CARA needs to be an identity, it needs to exist and it needs to be active in the community in a different capacity. It can take on a few fundraising events throughout the year in a smaller capacity and it would be less pull on the volunteers.”