Public input sought on new recreation fees

By Karen Fallon

The public are being invited to discuss a fee schedule for a variety of recreational venues and new fees for service and rentals on April 4 at 6 p.m.

Presented by Dennis LaPorte, director of recreation and culture, the fee schedule was passed “in principle” by council on March 21.

“What we are saying tonight is, here are the fees that we are proposing, let’s hold a public meeting of all interested parties, user groups, anyone that is connected and get their input before the fees are implemented,” said councillor John Sutton. “You have to start somewhere.”

In LaPorte’s report he noted that most of the proposed fee schedule, “pertains to the new recreation complex.”

“A number of the issues pertain to how we do business,” said LaPorte, who noted that his department has “done a lot of research comparing rates in different communities.”

Laporte spoke of coming in-line with municipalities such as Windsor, LaSalle and Leamington.

In response to councillor Diane Pouget’s question regarding consultation with various user groups, LaPorte says there has been some discussion between the town and the groups.

Pouget says she sees the lack of a recreation committee which would supply input to council on issues such as this, impedes her ability to make an informed decision.

Councillor Bart DiPasqualie agreed by saying that he thinks it is time to put the parks and recreation committee back in place.

“Make up a good committee that can give us good feedback and go from there,” he said.

“The fee schedule is new and it is updated,” said CAO Pamela Malott. “What the report shows is that there are different fees across municipalities and those are outlined in the schedule.”

The new fees are necessary she says, to sustain the new facility as indicated in the feasibility study which was carried out before the complex was built.

At that time, she continued, public meetings were held at which the user groups indicated that they wanted a new facility and that they would be willing to pay “suitable fees similar to other municipalities” in order for the facility to remain viable.

“A tremendous amount of fees will be new for this community and we have advised the user groups that they will be notified once council has made a decision,” said LaPorte. “These fees will not impact them until they have had the proper time to do their budgeting.”

No one likes user fees, says Sutton, but the consensus of the groups was if you can offer a higher level of service and prove there is an improvement they would be willing to pay.

“This is a good time to take this back to the public and say what do you think?” said Sutton.  “Is this going to work for you? Do we have to tweak it a little more still?

“The recreation committee is a separate issue,” added Sutton.

If LaPorte’s fee schedule is implemented it would raise the cost of prime time ice to $168.96 per hour and $147.45 for non-prime time ice, which, according to the report is lower than the rates charged in Windsor, Leamington and LaSalle?

Prime time soccer fees for the in-door pitch would cost $141.25   and non prime time would cost $113, whereas the cost to play on an outside field could cost from $8 per game to $63, depending on where the game is played.

Minor soccer would like to see their fee reflected in a charge per player, says LaPorte.

For the baseball diamonds, it is proposed that a game would cost from $8 to $57. The higher end would involve the use of lighting at a diamond at the new complex. A game of football will cost between $8 to $63 depending on site and lighting.

Other things under the new fee schedule are rentals, the indoor walking track, swimming, tennis courts and wedding in the parks.

Councillor Carolyn Davies says she understands the concept of user fees as it is widely understood that arenas “don’t make money.”

However she noted: “It is important to keep in mind that it is a community service,” said Davies, who noted that if fees are too high it may limit those who can participate in the sport.

“I really think we have to be on guard with that because it is for the whole community and not just for the folks who don’t think too much of user fees,” said Davies. “There are some people who are really hurting, I just don’t want to see over a period of time prices creeping up to where there is a bunch of folks who have dropped off the end but we haven’t noticed because there is enough playing on the field.”

One response to “Public input sought on new recreation fees”

  1. Mark Beaudoin says:

    The issue right now is not the user fees but who the USERS should be!