OBA calls for reduction in NSC running costs to fund help for young people
A reduction in the National Sports Centre’s operating costs should be a priority so more cash can be funnelled towards helping young people, an Opposition MP has said.
Susan Jackson, of the One Bermuda Alliance, said it was “challenging” to watch government funds poured into “bricks and mortar”, including $1.1 million at the NSC, rather than provide programmes for the young.
Ms Jackson, who was talking during the Budget debate on Youth, Culture and Sport, said: “We are spending a lot of money keeping the lights on at the NSC.
“I would like to feel there is some skin in the game … in the development of our youth.
“I feel as though we are losing money every year, a substantial amount of money, and it could be going towards the development of our children.”
Tinée Furbert, the Minister of Social Development and Seniors, said work was under way to transition the sports centre to solar energy which would mean a major reduction in its $600,000-a-year electricity costs.
Ms Furbert added: “The NSC is an essential part of our country’s sporting infrastructure.”
The budget for the Ministry of Youth, Culture and Sport was set at $12.86 million.
Ms Furbert said that, although it appeared to be an increase it was because the ministry had made budget savings in 2021-22 because of Covid-19 restrictions and the latest figure was a small reduction from the original 2021-22 budget.
She added that many department performance measures were not met because Covid-19 restrictions limited live events.
The Department of Culture’s Creatives Live! concerts held on the steps of City Hall in Hamilton did exceed their goal with 12 events rather than the planned four.
Ms Furbert said the programme offered “dual benefits of giving artists the opportunity to perform and enlivening our social atmosphere”.
She said the department would build on its success this year.
The culture department was given $1.98 million in its budget allocation, up $7,000 on the previous year.
Ms Furbert said camping, run under the Department of Youth, Sport and Recreation, was another success.
She added that the number of users of government camping areas jumped from 850 to 1,658, higher than the target of 1,500.
Ms Furbert said: “The department is very pleased to be able to serve the country in this way providing safe, fun recreation.”
She added that the Bermuda Day Parade was expected to go ahead this year, but that there would be no National Hero named.
Ms Furbert said that the Cultural Conference, held online last year, was expected to be a live event this year.
She added that the postponed Roots Festival, which will feature an exploration of segregation in Bermuda, would also be held live.
Ms Furbert said six events were planned for the Bermudian Heartbeats lecture series, which will include talks on the Railway Trail, the Cottage Hospital and segregated healthcare, as well as climate change.