Local leaders are exploring fee options for South Cariboo recreation facilities, as the Cariboo Regional District prepares to renew the recreation fee bylaw.
The bylaw sets the fee structure and recreation pass policy for users of facilities such as the South Cariboo Rec Centre and is up for renewal this year, after a three-year term.
Currently, anyone considered a “non-resident” – who lives outside of the current recreation taxation boundary of 100 Mile House, 108 Mile Ranch, Lone Butte, and parts of Forest Grove – is required to purchase a $200 rec pass for their household.
The rec pass allows them to register for various league sports such as hockey, figure skating, curling, softball, slo-pitch and soccer. For drop-in activities that don’t require pre-registration, such as public skating, no rec pass is required but there is a two-tiered pricing system in place that requires non-residents to pay 40 to 50 per cent more in admission fees.
On an average year, CRD staff said, around 45 households from outside the taxation area purchase the $200 recreation pass, accounting for about $9,000 of revenue. When it comes to recreation users within the boundary – where the taxation rate is currently about $35 per $100,000 assessed value – an average of 1,400 free rec passes are issued each year.
A long-planned referendum aims to expand the taxation boundary to include areas that currently are not included and subject to the $200 rec pass. The referendum was initially planned for this spring but has been delayed to next year to allow for more public consultation.
In a report to the South Cariboo Joint Committee last week, Darron Campbell, the CRD’s manager of community services, laid out some options for possible amendments to the recreation service bylaw.
The first option would be to increase the non-resident premium charge for regular drop-in programs such as seniors hockey from 50 to 100 per cent. This option would see the cost of senior hockey for a non-resident increase from $6.50 to $13. The pickleball program would also jump from $65 to $130 and youth camp from $165 to $310.
The second option presented would eliminate the two-tiered drop-in rate, but require the $200 recreation pass for all non-residents participating in regular drop-in activities such as seniors hockey, gym sports and youth camp.
Josh Dickerson, general manager of the South Cariboo Rec Centre, told the joint committee that there would likely be resistance to both options, but the first one would probably face the least amount of backlash.
“We would get some push back on that but I don’t think we would lose too many participants to our programs or rentals,” Dickerson said. “Going straight to requiring a $200 rec pass fee for everybody in each sport, I definitely think we would lose participants out of that one.”
Many of the committee members agreed the $200 rec pass fee should be marginally increased with the renewal of the bylaw.
“I would be in favour of increasing that $200 slightly, just because everything is going up in price,” 100 Mile House Coun. Dave Mingo said. “We want to get the message out that there is a cost to running this rec pass system.”
Coun. Maureen Pinkney, noting what a “complex and involved” system the South Cariboo recreation service is, suggested that people should be paying accordingly but perhaps not at a 100 per cent premium across the board.
“We want to make sure people are paying for what they’re paying for, but we also want to keep a healthy society,” Pinkney said. “We don’t want people to not be doing stuff because of the cost of things.”
100 Mile Mayor Mitch Campsall told the committee that he rarely uses local recreation facilities despite paying taxes on them for 38 years, but said he’s willing to do so because it supports the community.
“We need to work on what’s good for our community, not just what’s good for my own pocket alone,” Campsall said. “When I talk to people who live within the municipality who don’t use the facilities and probably never have, they don’t have a problem with the recreation tax because they know it’s good for the community.”
A draft bylaw and fee schedule will be prepared by CRD staff and brought back to a joint committee meeting later this spring.