News View: Paying to play

New artificial turf fields in both municipalities cost the parks department millions of dollars.

Some families are feeling the pinch as the parks and recreation department has instituted higher user fees for sports facilities in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

New artificial turf fields in both municipalities cost the parks department millions of dollars.

The benefits are clear in that those who play soccer, baseball, football, rugby, field lacrosse, ultimate frisbee and other sports now have top-notch facilities to compete on.

The price: starting this spring, sports groups in the warmer months will charge each registrant a field user fee of $15. Local sports groups already charge $30 per athlete the rest of the year.

Seems reasonable, except for some families, who with two or more children, all involved in multiple sports, could end up having to pay considerably more for summer sports.

Is the fee increase so much that it will result in some young athletes not being able to afford to play?

The user fee increase will hurt the most active families the most. At the same time, they are the ones using the facilities the most, so they see the most benefit. Compared to other municipalities, the fees charged locally are still quite low, and it’s only fair that summer users pay a field fee, as winter users already do.

The cost of the new facilities has to be paid somehow. They’re already built, and they were needed – soccer was struggling to find field time. Surely slo-pitch players in Ruskin would like to see improvements to their fields. The money has to come from somewhere.

User fees are difficult to accept at any time, especially when wage increases for average folks are lagging behind inflation.

And no one seems to like overall municipal tax increases, which average around five per cent a year in Maple Ridge, for which council takes much heat.

It would be nice if there were no tax increases and everyone got a raise. But that’s not going to happen.

Unfortunately, we have to pay to play.

 

– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News