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St. John’s city council voted in favour of increasing recreation program fees, a move that will bring an extra $116,000 annually to the city.
The motion passed with an 8-1 vote in favour of the increases. Coun. Maggie Burton voted against the change.
Burton acknowledged that while the city’s fees are mid-range compared to other jurisdictions, she’d rather see St. John’s take the lead in lowering fees for such programs.
She previously told The Telegram she believes the city should keep such fees as low as possible to ensure as many people as possible can benefit.
“These facilities should be accessible for the people who rely on them, and particularly for families with young children and seniors or people on a fixed income,” she said.
At the Monday evening council meeting, Coun. Jamie Korab, the lead on the issue, said the city offers subsidies to residents who can’t afford the cost of recreation programs offered by the city.
Korab said children and youth can also avail of the REAL Program (Recreation Experiences and Leisure), which provides those opportunities to young people in financial need.
Mayor Danny Breen noted the city offers excellent programs provided by well-trained staff and therefore it’s important the city “maintain some level of user pay.”
Breen said the city’s recreation programs are priced fairly in comparison to other municipalities and the private sector.
The fee increases will affect the city’s recreational centres and programs.
While most increases are slight – an extra $2 here or there – some services will see upward of $25 increases.
For example, it will cost an extra $25 to host a birthday party at the Paul Reynolds Centre, Bannerman Park and Bowring Park swimming pools – increasing from $126 this year to $151 in 2019.
Monthly rates for after-school programs will also see a jump. With transportation, the current cost of $330 will go up to $350.
Activity centre fees will also increase – from the current full-day cost of $52.50 up to $70 next year, plus the implementation of a non-refundable $30 deposit.
Not all fees are going up, though – some will remain the same, such as the cost of instruction for some Red Cross lifeguard certifications.
Some other drop-in program fees will actually decrease – such as Active Playgroup and Sunday Funday, which will see a fee decrease to $2, instead of $3.