Council scrapping two-tier recreation fee system

The two-tiered resident/non-resident recreation fee system is on the way out.

The two-tiered resident/non-resident recreation fee system is on the way out. At the Wednesday, March 4 budget meeting, Cranbrook council decided to scrap the system, which sees Cranbrook residents pay a lower fee than non-residents.

Coun. Wesly Graham made the motion that they drop the two-tier system. It will be brought back as a report at the Monday, March 9 regular council meeting.

As for cost associated with the changes, Charlotte Osbourne, director of Finance and Computer Services, noted it would be about a $30,000-$40,000 change.

“The total for 2014 was $37,866.93,” Osbourne said. “We’ve looked at it a number of times. That number fluctuates. In 2013 it was $30,000. In 2012 it was $30,000. The year before that it was $39,000. So it’s not a a lot of money in the budget.”

Coun. Tom Shypitka noted that he agreed it wasn’t a lot of money, but it also has a greater value.

“More importantly we’re trying to build some relationships with Area C and the regional district, and I think it’s a good peace offering and olive branch to pass to get some better work ahead with those priorities,” Shypitka said.

Coun. Ron Popoff also noted that the two-tier price scheme doesn’t give off a good impression to those travelling to Cranbrook either.

“It’s not just our good neighbourly relationships with Area C, but also the broader picture of economic development,” Popoff said. “It’s wise that we do away with the two-tier and rebuild our relationships with Area C residents.”

CAO Wayne Staudt noted that the rates of the two-tiered system are embedded in the rates bylaw.

“Before you can actually implement it you have to go through the process of bring the bylaw forward with the new rates in it,” Staudt said. He added that the rate plans  were in the past set on a three year basis, but last year had been set on a single year basis. The current rates would carry on until September 2016.

Chris New, director of Leisure Services initially told council he could have a report back for the March 23 meeting, meaning the changes would likely come in May. However, since the fee letters for baseball, soccer and other sports were going out soon, he agreed to have a report back for the Monday, March 9 council meeting.

Mayor Lee Pratt said it is the right move.

“I played hockey with a lot of those people and I think there is a lot of hard feelings still surfacing there,” Pratt said. “We said what we want and I think if we can expedite is as fast as we can, that’s what were asking for.”