Council to consider rate hikes at local facilities in 2019

By Charlene Tebbutt
October 10, 2018 - 1:21pm Updated: October 10, 2018 - 1:54pm

Prince Albert city council will take a look at fees for local recreational facilities as part of upcoming budget deliberations, meaning users will likely be paying more in the New Year.

Councillors approved a recommendation at an executive committee meeting Tuesday to review proposed rate increases for civic facilities, including the Alfred Jenkins Fieldhouse, Margo Fournier Centre and Kinsmen Water Park. The proposed rate hikes include a 25-cent increase in senior and youth drop-in rates at the fieldhouse and Margo Fournier Centre, and a 50-cent hike in adult rates. Group rates are also projected to increase in 2019.

City administration is also proposing a rate increase at the Frank Dunn Pool, for both single admission passes for youths, adults and seniors, and family and group rates. City Recreation Manager Derek Blais said the increases are necessary to cover the cost of inflation, adding passes for youths and seniors continue to be heavily subsidized.

The city is also trying to recoup some $97,000 in lost revenues from the last year. Blais told council projections for the year were higher than what actually came in, citing poor weather over the summer as one of the reasons for the loss.

“If it was up to us, we do not want to increase any rates, we want to make the facilities as accessible as possible, but I guess the reality of the situation is that costs go up every year,” Blais told paNOW. “We always look at where our expenses are coming in at and we have targets when it comes to cost recovery and our investments into our recreational facilities, so we try to set our rates accordingly.”

Mayor Greg Dionne supported the proposed rate hikes, saying no increases this year will mean a double jump in 2020.

“I support the rate increase because we have to operate,” Dionne told council Tuesday.

But Ward 6 Coun. Blake Edwards questioned the fee hikes, saying a drop in fees last year led to more people using civic facilities. Edwards questioned why the city would consider raising fees when a lower rate proved more popular.

Changes in rates for 2018 included lower prices for youth and seniors and the implementation of family rates at all civic facilities. The changes led to increases in youth and senior memberships in 2018, according to a report to city council, and significant jumps in youth, senior and family general admission passes.

“We had success at that rate,” Edwards said.

Ward 2 Coun. Terra Lennox-Zepp said she heard complaints about long lines at the Kinsmen Water Park over the summer and asked for input from administration on ways to speed up access to the pool over the warm summer months. Council will consider the proposed rate hikes, and improved access at the pool, as part of deliberations for the 2019 budget.

 

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On Twitter: @CharleneTebbutt

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