The ice fees dilemma has been resolved after council passed a motion in a special meeting on Sept. 8 to change the pricing structure.
The fees will now increase incrementally every year for the next five years instead of jumping up around 50 per cent all at once. Various ice user groups had requested a more subtle increase at council’s Aug. 22 meeting.
Recreation manager Willa Thorpe presented her report to council, which was agreed upon by the recreation commission and the user groups.
The bylaw will change in three ways, Thorpe explained to council. First, prime time ice fees are calculated at 1.1 times non-prime ice time, down from 1.5. The prime time will now increase 10 per cent every year until 2021.
Prime time was adjusted to end at 11 p.m. every night, scaled back one hour from midnight. As well, the annual rate calendar will run from Sept. 1 to Aug. 31, to be in line with the ice users’ season. The schedule was originally Jan. 1 to Dec. 31.
“The ice users were unanimously in favour of the recommendation and the recreation commission also approved it as well and they were excited to see the changes,” said Thorpe.
Council passed the motion six to one. Only Coun. Randhawa opposed the motion, saying he thought the fees should stay at five per cent across the board, so they can be affordable to everyone.
Mayor Lee Brain applauded the motion. “I see the rec commission happy, I see the user groups happy. I see it as something positive and to begin the process of moving forward.”
Brain noted that the fees themselves aren’t changing overall — only the way the city is phasing in the fees. The five-year plan remains the same.
The changes are welcome news for ice user groups. At the Aug. 22 meeting, representatives from the groups had asked council to consider changing the price structure. The adult rec hockey league said they were facing having to cut back on ice time, due to the price hike.
“I am very pleased that our recreational committee has decided to slowly increase the fees for ice times. I feel this will be an approach that our community will be much more comfortable with,” said Kate Toye, executive vice president of the skating club.
The changes mean some groups will be saving over $50 an hour this season. Prime time for adults will be reduced from $212 per hour to $155, a savings of $56 every hour.
Youth prime time changed from $81 to $59, saving those users $21 hourly.
In Thorpe’s report to the city, she states the change will result in a $24,000 of loss in ice rental revenue for 2016, but that the department can absorb the impact of that loss.