New Westminster expands toonie offerings at rec facilities

A new $2 fee is being introduced for all public skating sessions and some swims at Canada Games Pool in 2020.

On Monday, council gave three readings to a fees and charges amendment bylaw, which addresses proposed adjustments for various parks and recreation fees beginning on Jan. 1, 2020. The adjustments to fees and charges, which range from zero to five per cent, are intended to offset an estimated collective agreement increase of two per cent, to offset the estimated two per cent rate of inflation and to provide increases that align fees with market value.

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In an attempt to reduce financial barriers at local facilities, staff is proposing some new toonie programs.

“We are suggesting that all the skating fees go to $2,” said Jason Haight, manager of business operations. “Half of our public skates are a loonie skate for $1 admission and the other half are age-based admission fees at a much higher rate.”

As a result of the pricing difference between the skating sessions, staff has found that the loonie skates are highly attended to the point of reaching facility capacity – putting excessive demand on parking, skate shop rentals, front counter service, lobby use and ice use.

“The removal of the price difference is expected to even out skating demand across more and better skating times, and thus increase the quality and enjoyment of the user experience,” said a staff report. “The $2 skate admission will represent a significant price decrease from traditional age-based prices across most age categories.”

In 2020, parks and rec will also be piloting a new $2 admission fee for swimming and/or fitness at Canada Games Pool. Staff believe a $2 swim, to be offered two or three times a week, will complement other low-cost swims, including a $1 swim that’s offered twice a week.

“The $2 admission fee is a proposed brand new fee for select swims at Canada Games Pool,” Haight said. “We would also use that $2 fee for an outdoor pool admission – again, not going by an age fee but by an admission fee. In most every case that represents savings to the customer.”

“I am supportive of the suggestions included in the fees and charges,” said Mayor Jonathan Cote. “I think it partially responds to council’s direction about creating a regular and affordable program for the community for recreation.”

While these fees are a good starting point, Cote said he’d like council to have an opportunity to have additional discussions on low-cost programs and ways to reduce financial barriers for recreational programs.

 “I think potentially there are some other recreational opportunities or drop-in sports that might also benefit from looking at this as well, too."

Council supports the fees and charges amendment bylaw, but also wants staff to report back with more details on the opportunities to expand the concept of a toonie program at recreation facilities.



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