Everyone pays a bit more to have fun

Recreation user fees up 10-20%

Minor hockey will pay more because their facilities rental is already the highest. The Barracudas

Minor hockey will pay more because their facilities rental is already the highest. The Barracudas

The Ridge Meadows Minor Hockey Association will feel it the most when fee increases come into effect for Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows Parks and Leisure facilities in 2012.

A 10- to 20-per-cent increase for the use of meeting rooms, medium halls, the gymnasium, indoor pool rentals, park shelter and for admission to public skating takes effect in the new year.

Rates for the use of both Planet Ice and the Pitt Meadows arenas will be increased five per cent over last year’s rate — but that will hurt more because arenas are the most expensive facilities to rent.

This means Ridge Meadows Minor Hockey Association will be paying an extra $4,800 a year for the use of both facilities.

“The rental rates are higher for hockey than other facilities because our arenas are our most expensive facility to rent,” says Kelly Swift, Parks and Recreation general manager for community development.

However, Swift ads, “We have increased the amount of subsidized ice time that minor hockey gets by 10 per cent a year, over five years.

“So they’re getting their second installation of that.”

The value to minor hockey from that increase is about $23,000, says Swift.

“So although our rates are increasing slightly, minor hockey will come out quite a bit ahead because when we increase their subsidized time it reduces the amount of private time that they have to buy that is more expensive.”

Melanie Gushue, vice-president of the Ridge Meadows Minor Hockey Association is concerned about the fee increase.

“Any increase in fees that we have to ultimately pass on to our membership are a concern to us because hockey is already an excessively expensive sport,” says Gushue.

“Although our registration’s not dropping, it is not going up either and we’re a growing community.”

Local swim groups such as the Haney Neptunes and the Haney Sea Horses will see a 10-per-cent increase in rates. That rate was further behind market rates, explains Swift, so it saw a larger increase.

But that should only translate to a $1,400-increase for each because the rates for the pool are lower than that for the arenas.

The final report was passed by Maple Ridge council last week and is expected to be passed by Pitt Meadows council this week.

The new rates will come into effect in January 2012.

Swift says all groups will receive notification about the new rates.

Swift would like to encourage the use of the rebate program. Minor hockey uses it each year.

People who join minor hockey but who aren’t able to pay the full registration fees, are subsidized by minor hockey, explains Swift.

Then when minor hockey pays its rent to parks and leisure for ice time, parks and leisure deducts that from their rental charges.

“I think there are some people that would assume that ‘Gee, the rates for this sport seem very expensive. I don’t think we can afford it.’

“And I would encourage people to talk with those people involved with the registrar for those organizations to check because I think that most of them do have a program in place.”

Gushue says though that while minor hockey gets some subsidized ice time, it’s not enough compared to other municipalities.