Fee increase to impact sports groups

Fees at Campbell River's Strathcona Gardens are expected to rise

Fees at Strathcona Gardens are expected to rise.

The Strathcona Gardens Commission endorsed a plan to adjust rental fees and the cost of skate sharpening to align with fees charged by other recreation centres on the Island.

The commission made the decision at its Sept. 16 meeting following a recommendation from Strathcona Regional District staff.

Russ Hotsenpiller, the regional district’s CAO, said the recommendation was made to raise the fees after comparing Strathcona Gardens’ fees with those at other Island facilities.

“Staff have considered end user affordability, maximizing facility use, community benefit, and made comparisons to neighbouring municipal recreation facilities,” Hotsenpiller said. “It should be noted that Strathcona Gardens rates are generally below average for most categories in comparison to other facilities.”

Hotsenpiller said that’s likely because incremental fee increases have not taken place on a regular basis.

Yves Bienvenu, facility manager of Strathcona Gardens, said the fee increase will be applied to groups who rent out the Gardens. He added that with rising operations costs, in order to maintain the status quo, if the user groups aren’t paying, then the costs would have to be passed on to the taxpayers, some of which may not be using the facility.

“Since 2007, most of the cost recovery has been absorbed by the taxpayer and not the users themselves,” Bienvenu said. “We understand that organized sports are expensive and that any increase will most likely get tacked on to a registration fee for either children or adult users.”

The recommended fee increase for arena ice rentals is to up the $68.75 primetime fee for minor groups by three per cent in each of the next five years, until it reaches $79.69 by the 2020/21 season. For non-prime time, the existing $58.75 fee would rise by three per cent in the first two years, then four per cent in years three and four and by five per cent in year five, when the cost would reach $70.78. For dry floor rentals, the current $47.25 fee would remain the same for minor groups.

For adult groups, ice rentals during primetime would jump from $148.75 to $172.44, phased in over five years, while non-prime time ice rentals will go from $113.25 to $131.28, also phased in over five years. Dry floor rentals for adult groups will increase from the current $47.25 to $54.78 after five years.

Bienvenu said the plan is to phase the increases in over five years in consideration of the impact it will have on the larger user groups.

“CR Minor Hockey – our biggest user group – to maintain their present bookings, they will see their annual fees jump from $126,587 to $146,749 after five years,” Bienvenu said. “Other major user groups impacted are the Pioneer Hockey League (from $44,163 to $51,197) and the CR Figure Skating Club (from $41,869 to $48,537).”

The Campbell River Storm will not be affected by the proposed fees as the team has a separate contract with the Strathcona Regional District.

Included in the fee overhaul is also a change to hourly pool rental fees, from $10.50 to $12.65, phased in over five years.

Fees for skate sharpening are proposed to be raised from $4 to $5 to be line with other local sports stores and recreation facilities across the Island.