It’ll cost you another quarter to skate and swim at Strathcona Gardens

The Strathcona Regional District board of directors last Thursday voted to raise rates effective Sept. 1

Fees are going up by five per cent across the board at Strathcona Gardens.

The Strathcona Regional District board of directors last Thursday voted to raise rates effective Sept. 1.

The increase will have an impact on all admission, program and membership fees.

The price hike means rates for adults will rise from $5.50 to $5.75; seniors will pay $4.25, up from the current $4 rate; the teen/student price will rise from $3.75 to $4; children will be $3, up from $2.75; and the family rate will increase from $11 to $11.50.

Even with the rate increase, fees at Strathcona Gardens will still be below the Island average.

Average prices on the Island are: adults ($5.83), seniors ($4.37), teens ($4.14), children ($3.05), and family ($12.13).

The rate hike was proposed by the regional district’s Strathcona Gardens Commission (which looks after Strathcona Gardens) as a way to narrow the gap between revenues and the high costs of operating the facility.

Tom Yates, the acting chief administrative officer of the regional district, said fees at Strathcona Gardens are below the average of other similar facilities on Vancouver Island, likely due to the fact that the fee structure was never changed on a regular basis.

Fees increased four per cent over the past six years but have not gone up since the 2009/2010 season when fees were raised by two per cent. Fees also went up two per cent in 2008/2009.

Still, at least one Strathcona Gardens user wrote a letter, dated July 3, opposing raising the rates.

“How can you raise rates when the pool is running at half speed,” wrote the resident, which had its name blacked out in the letter by the regional district for privacy reasons. “The hot tub was out of service (and) the steam room was down for weeks a few months ago.”

The rate hike also comes two months after Campbell River resident N.F. Jamieson wrote a letter to the editor, which appeared in the May 11 edition of the Mirror, frustrated that the regional district did not lower prices at Strathcona Gardens to reflect the removal of the HST (Harmonized Sales Tax).

“With the recent seven per cent removal of HST from recreation facilities on April 1, the Strathcona Regional District has decided to keep the rate the same,” Jamieson wrote.

“Zeroes to the various directors, including those Campbell River councillors (who sit on the regional district board), who have condoned it without actually advising the public.”

Yates said at the time that the price already has the tax included.

“This means that the amount paid by the customer is a fixed amount and independent of whichever tax regime happens to be in place at any given time,” Yates said.

“To put it another way, the regional district calculates the taxes owing based on program revenue and determines the amount that must be given over as taxes and the amount that it may keep to support operational costs for the facility, thus avoiding constant recalculation of ticket prices.”