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Q&A with Trail’s outgoing parks and rec director

Longtime City of Trail parks and recreation director Trisha Davison recently announced that she will be leaving to take a new position with the Regional District of Central Kootenay. We caught up with her to find out more.

How did you come to the City of Trail?
I’ve been working for the city almost 15 years to the day. I came in May 2008. But I moved to the West Kootenay from the Lower Mainland to take a position in Rossland in 2007. Worked there for a year and then came to Trail and worked as the deputy director for about two and a half years in the recreation department, and then took on the director’s role and have been there ever since.

There was no shortage of notable things accomplished during your time.
Absolutely. I am so thrilled to be able to leave a position knowing and seeing some of the work we’ve been able to do. It’s one of the real benefits of working in public service, especially in this role. You get a chance to be part of the community and help shape it in a way that makes people proud to live. Trail has certainly been extremely fortunate to see the number of projects and initiatives occur even in my time that I know will provide excellent opportunities for the community.

What were some of your highlights?
There are so many, but the one that really stands out for me is the Trail SK8Park. It was maybe not the biggest project, but it was in the works when I started working in Trail, and I remember the effort to get that project done before I might retire from work altogether was monumental. It was this constant, gentle nudging to get that project going and ultimately in the location that it is. Working with youth and all the different agencies well outside of Trail that made that project happen, to see it come together and see people enjoy it is one of the things I take a lot of pride in.

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That project was probably first talked about 25 years ago. What was the biggest hurdle?
Skateparks are one of those amenities that can be contentious, especially 15 years ago. There were stereotypes that went with skateparks and things you have to overcome when you start looking at locations and people being concerned about it being close to where they live, or maybe they don’t agree with having that type of amenity in their neighbourhood.

I have files probably half a drawer deep of different locations and ways of looking at trying to get that project built. It just took a long time to figure out where it should go. Then it was the perfect storm when the hardscape surface went in to see it happen at Gyro Park, which was bar none the best location for that amenity to serve youth and all skateboarders.

Trail’s blessed with a lot of recreational facilities, but when you started what kind of shape were they in?
Recreation infrastructure by its nature tends to take a lot of effort to maintain. Often when they are built, they have a 50, 60, 70-year lifespan at minimum. Once built you probably get five to 10 years of breathing room before you have to start maintaining an asset like that. The Trail Memorial Centre celebrated its 70th anniversary in the time I worked here. The Trail Aquatic Centre turned 25. When you have infrastructure in that age category you have to pay attention to it.

Any recreation director or person involved in this service knows you come into these venues knowing they will require effort. I’ve had an incredible team, certainly not just me, that had visions and ideas of where infrastructure could go and what it could look like and how to repurpose and rejuvenate it. Sometimes the beauty of my role is to turn some of those visions loose and help them run and find the resources needed to get them to where they should be so the community can continue to enjoy them.

The Memorial Centre is particularly interesting. In your time you saw the library move out and a variety of renovations, and some stuff that’s going to happen after you leave.
It was an interesting chapter in the Trail Memorial Centre’s time when the library moved out to the Trail Riverfront Centre, which also fell under my purview. I had a neat opportunity to connect with the library, their staff, and the museum and archives team to see that building come to fruition and open in 2018.

It did leave this vacancy within the Trail Memorial Centre. Just recently there’s been a lot of work to repurpose the old library space and it’s turned into this magnificent room. We’ve renamed it the Victoria View Room and it will be on display during Silver City Days at the beer garden the Trail Smoke Eaters are hosting on Saturday from 3 till 7. It’s a great opportunity for the community to see what that room looks like and even what might be possible in it. We hope to see many other community initiatives and groups look to use that space.

The whole Memorial Centre is a very large building, a very expensive building. There’s a lot of infrastructure to maintain. But the deputy director [Robert Baker] has done an excellent job in creating a vision as to how to upgrade yet hold on to the historic nature of that facility and repurpose and bring back to life certain areas. That work is well underway, but there is certainly more to do.

What is your new role with RDCK?
I will be assuming the job of regional manager of recreation and client services for the district. I’ve had the privilege of working with many staff within the regional district. The recreation service is a tight-knit community not just within the southeast corner of BC, but within the province. We know each other very well. I’ve probably got another five to seven years at least before retirement, so it was an opportunity to look at my own professional growth and development and have some time to sink my teeth into something different that continues in the community services world in a slightly different way and region.

Is that a new position?
The organization restructured about nine or 10 months ago. The position was created back in July 2022. The person that was in it is vacating the role and assuming a different position within the regional district.

Anything you’d like to add?
I love community service work and it’s been a true pleasure to serve Trail. It’s been amazing to have the support as a civil servant in my field. Certainly the sport and recreation history in Trail is second to none. Right from the first day to my last there’s been nothing but support for this service and I just want to thank the community for that.

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