Prince Rupert recreation department looking to develop fee structure for the coming years

A new, transparent five-year plan for fees and rate increases is being developed by the City of Prince Rupert and its recreation commission.

Prince Rupert Recreation is going big picture.

A new, transparent five-year plan for fees and rate increases is being developed by the City of Prince Rupert and its recreation commission.

The changes will be a drastic departure from the past four years where the city didn’t increase recreation field, court and arena rental fees or program charges.

“We’re exploring a five-year fees and charges bylaw [and] the goal is that the whole community will understand that for the next coming five years, so in this case 2016 – 2020, [the amount] they’re going to pay for any admissions, any rentals, any fees, so there’s no surprises. Everyone will understand right out of the gate what those percentage increases might look like,” said director of recreation Willa Thorpe.

This past year, Prince Rupert recreation increased fees by 10 per cent, a larger than normal jump to recoup some of the revenue that was lost over the past four years when there were no jumps in charges or fees.

Typically, recreational charges jump two to five per cent every year on average to adjust for inflation and cost of living, said Thorpe.

“We hadn’t explored our rates at all in over four years … so that 10 per cent – that’s in that two to five range (over the four years),” said the director.

What the new plan will accomplish is centralizing corporate sponsorship, enabling communication with the public and recreational organizations and preparing properly for asset management and emergency funding.

“Proper financial management … and asset management [includes] looking at capital replacement pieces, or when you look at the roof or when we need to replace structural items – when you build in a proper financial plan, you can do that instead of continually going back to the community, saying ‘Well we didn’t plan properly for this, so now we need to ask you for that,” said Thorpe.

“There are times of emergencies where we need to adapt, but the goal being that if we’re managing our finances properly … the community knows what to expect. No surprises is the goal.”

Prince Rupert recreation is working with various city councillors who also sit on the recreation commission, to present the five-year plan before city council in December, to be enacted in January 2016.

Along with transparency for the public, having a more efficient relationship with corporate partners is another goal for the recreation commission and the city.

Streamlining the process of collecting corporate fundraising, Thorpe and the commission are planning to implement approaching businesses for one set of donations to create a pool of funds instead of continually coming back to them to appeal for funds every time a special event comes up or an asset needs to be fixed/built.

“We’re saying how much as an organization are you prepared to invest and then we can take that pool of funds and then associate them with a variety of events. As a corporate citizen, obviously it’s a lot nicer to have one conversation instead of being continually hounded for additional funds,” said the director, adding the commission is quickly becoming an action-oriented one.

“The commission’s great. It’s very well put together and now it’s a highly functioning committee,” said Thorpe.

Commission meetings are open to the public and anyone looking to watch their proceedings can attend their next meeting scheduled for Sept. 23. For more information, call Prince Rupert Recreation at 250-624-6707.

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