Yellowknife ponders recreation fee changes

The Ruth Inch Memorial Pool in Yellowknife, (Supplied by the City of Yellowknife.)
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City staff said sports groups would hurt if council drastically increased recreation fees, as Yellowknife city councillors reviewed the fees bylaw.

Every spring, city council reviews and updates the fees bylaw as new numbers about how many people used certain services, especially recreation services, are provided.

A number of fees have remained unchanged over the past few years, including lottery license fees and tax certificate fees, among other fees. The lottery license bylaw is still being reviewed, after delays because of COVID-19 caused the new bylaw’s timeline to be pushed back.

Yellowknife Mayor Rebecca Alty said city council looks to recover the full cost of operating the facility. 

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“For us, we’re looking to recover 50 per cent of the cost to operate the facility, which means the other 50 per cent would come from taxes,” said Alty in an interview on 100.1 True North FM.

Alty said the fees differ depending on the facility because of the varying costs. Heating and staff means it’s more expensive to run the pool than the fieldhouse for example.

“If we charge the full amount for the pool, it wouldn’t be affordable for residents,” added Alty. “So there’s some balancing that we have to do.”

Currently, there’s a three per cent annual increase in user fees for recreation facilities. That was made necessary after utilities costs spiked in the early 2000s, and energy retrofits were required to make running the city’s recreation spaces affordable.

During a governance and priorities committee meeting on Monday, town administration said the consistent increase of three per cent to fees the city charges for recreation spaces allows user groups to plan for the future. 

Maintaining that consistent increase also prevents sudden spikes depending on sudden cost changes at a certain facility.

City councillors will review the issue further before voting on changes.

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