Leisure activities fees going up in Cranbrook

City of Cranbrook has approved increases to leisure services facility admissions and rentals

The admission and rental fees for leisure services activities in the city will be going up five per cent this year and five per cent the next.

Council approved a new leisure services fees and charges bylaw at council on Monday, June 23 after a lengthy discussion on the topic.

Coun. Denise Pallesen pointed out that they are talking about raising the fees five per cent in 2014/15 and an additional five per cent in 2015/16.

“That’s 10 per cent over two years,” Pallesen said, adding that she wasn’t sure they had raised it by such an amount in the past.

Chris New, Leisure Services director, said that in the recent past, the fees have been raised by a more significant amount.

“Was it very successful? No,” New said. “We did do a 25-40 per cent increase back in 2010 when we finished off the upgrades. That was to recover the debt servicing on the Memorial Arena renovation.”

New said the new increases represent the second and third of the five per cent increases. When the Memorial Arena renovations took place, the council of the day directed leisure services to share the costs across all the arena users.

The first year they did 25-40 per cent increase to arena rates. The next year they increased it five per cent. Then between 2012 and 2014 there was a fee freeze after council approved the Leisure Services Fees and Charges Amendment Bylaw in 2012, as according to the report many users were decreasing or cancelling their ice time. New explained along with the fee freeze, the provincial switch to HST afforded users a seven per cent savings for the 2013/2014 season.

Five per cent increases over the next two years will also happen for aquatic centre rates, field user rates, racquet court rates and sports passes.

New said the increase to aquatic rates comes as ratifications to the new collective agreement brings salary and benefits increases of $16,000 annually for Leisure Services staff. Utility fees are also projected at an additional $4,000.

“To recover these additional costs, aquatic fees, including lessons and admissions, require an increase of five per cent,” the bylaw reads.

The increases to fees for youth swimming lessons will be applied in January 1, 2015, while adult and private lessons will increase September 1, 2014.

The non-resident rate will continue to be applied at the historic rate, which is a 100 per cent premium on the price of admission.

The city has sent a letter to the Regional District of East Kootenay asking to have a meeting about the possibility of moving from the two-tier pay structure to a single one.

Coun. Bob Whetham asked how the city’s leisure fees compare to other similar sized recreation complexes in other cities.

“We’re higher than average, that’s for sure,” New said. “Regionally we’re probably the most expensive.”

He said they are still cheaper than some larger centres like Calgary.

For a comparison, the city of Calgary’s leisure services fees are divided into two tiers depending on the facility. For an adult swim admission the cost in the lower tier is $5.75, while a senior and a child/youth is $2.90. In Cranbrook an adult admission is $5.45, youth and senior admission is priced at $4.25, and a child admission is $3.20.

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