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By Chris Marchand
An effort to recover a larger portion of operational costs will result in some significant rate hikes for the North Dryden soccer fields and ball diamonds.
Presenting the plan to city council at a Feb. 18 meeting, Community and Development Services Manager Bill Cunningham says KPMG suggested a cost recovery rate in the area of 43 per cent in its examination of potential cost-saving/revenue generation opportunities for the city.
While the Dryden Memorial Arena and adjacent pool and fitness centre are currently meeting those cost recovery objectives — at 64.4 per cent and 46.5 per cent respectively, the outdoor venue have a ways to go.
In 2013, soccer players paid $2,727 in fees while maintenance of the site cost the city $19,380.
While the prospect of a 220 per cent increase in rates to bring the soccer fields up to the 43 per cent recovery rate sounded particularly onerous to council, Cunningham says Dryden Youth Soccer’s sheer size (450 players) will allow it to absorb the costs with relatively minimal consequences — a $6.83 raise in each player’s annual fees.
Ball diamonds rates face a 65 per cent increase, which Cunningham says would affect the 400 minor ball players to the tune of $2.25 of additional fees per season.
But councillors were not so quick to support the plan which saw hourly adult resident ball diamonds rates spike from $16 to $26.40 ($33 for non-residents).
Councillor Shayne MacKinnon requested a recorded vote on the ball diamonds matter and was joined in his opposition to the rate hikes on principle by Councillor Martin MacKinnon in the vote, which ultimately passed 3-2.
“I don’t agree that we should be increasing those fees,” said MacKinnon. “Both of those organizations affected have done a number of things to improve facilities in our community and I think it’s counter-productive for us to raise fees in regards to their activities.”
Councillor Mary Trist offered her support for the vote based on the minimal impact of spreading the burden of the increases among a significant volume of facility users.
“I’m trying to bring it down to what it means for an individual who takes their kids down to sign up — what’s this going to mean for them?” said Trist. “Granted, any increase is not good and there’s no denying the tremendous good members of both those clubs have done in Dryden, but I will support it.”
Councillor Martin Mackinnon was the second dissenting voice.
“I came off those fields and I volunteered and worked with those organizations for many years,” he said. “I understand that funds are hard to come by but morally I can not support increasing those fees.”