Thursday, September 1, 2016

Ice Fees issues send the city's Recreation Commission back to the drawing board

The August 22nd Council session provided more feedback for City Council on the issue of Ice rental fees at the Civic Centre arena, with members of the city's Adult Hockey League expressing their concerns over how the steep increase in fees could have a significant impact on their league operations in the year ahead.

The discussion during the Committee of the Whole session, would become part of a larger issued related to how the City has decided to move forward with increases to the fees for its recreation facilities, a topic which goes back to Council's Budget process of the spring and the decision to not raise taxes for 2016.

That decision appears to have had some ramifications for the Recreation Department as user group after user group now seems to be challenging the sudden increase in fees for use of Rec Centre facilities.

At the August Council session, Councillor Thorkelson noted that during the discussion related to the recreation centre fees she had expressed a belief that the city should continue to subsidize use of the facilities.

Reminding Council that it had decided to move forward with its plan to increase fees as opposed to tax increases to help address not only operational issues, but towards longer range infrastructure requirements for the city's aging structures.

You can review some of those discussions, and previous notes on recreation fee issues from our archives below:

June 2016 -- Fine print brings Recreation Fees and Charges bylaw back to Council for discussion
February 2016 -- City to seek further information on Skating club ice rental fee cut request
February 2016 -- Recreation Fees discussion provides for heated exchange in Council chamber
January 2016 -- Recreation Department to introduce new registration system in February
January 2016 -- Recreation Centre concerns outlined by Councillor Niesh
December 2015 -- Increases to Airport Ferry and Recreation Fees among items on City Council Agenda for Special session tonight
November 2015 -- Recreation Director outlines report details and request for increased fees for Recreation Services
November 2015 -- City Council to consider Recreation Fee increase at Monday session
December 2014 -- Final Approval on fee increases and review of Community enhancement Grants on Council Agenda tonight
December 2014 -- Council set to approve increases of ten percent on Recreation fees for 2015
November 2014 -- Council gives Recreation Manager and New Commission time to examine Rec Centre issues

The revised fee structure however has provided for a few surprises for City Council along the way, with the need to address the issue as different groups have expressed their concerns.

The issue of the cost of rental for ice at the Civic Centre had already found the city looking to address its current fee structure for the city's minor hockey association, something that had been on the Agenda for August 22nd.

The concerns raised by the Adult Recreation League on that evening, and with other user groups in attendance at that session, gave cause for the city to send the entire issue back to the Recreation Commission for further study, with a decision on how best to address the concerns to be returned to Council for consideration in September.

The topic is one of particular concern for Councillor Barry Cunningham who has raised the issue of recreation fees frequently at City Council, he stressed that when the Recreation Commission considers the issue further he would like to see a more balanced approach taken towards all user groups of the civic centre facilities.

City staff however expressed some confusion at Council's decision to revisit the user rates issue, with Willa Thorpe, the Director of Recreation Services noting that the process had been one that had been reviewed in depth during the budget process, with the notice to user groups delivered with the introduction of the fees in July of this year.

How the August 22nd conversation progressed can be reviewed from our City Council Timeline feature here, with the topic raised both during the Committee of the Whole session and later during the Regular Council session.

You can also view the discussion from the Council chamber through the City's Video Archive.

The Committee of the Whole segment starts at the 7 minute mark, while the topic of the Minor Hockey Ice Fees comes up at the 50 minute point, while the decision to send the entire overview back to the Recreation commission is explored at the one hour eighteen minute mark.

More background on Prince Rupert Minor Hockey can be found on our Minor Hockey page, while further items of note from Prince Rupert City Council can be examined on our City Council Discussion page.

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