Fee for the future in Hay River

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Decades from now, this scene from 2016 - the demolition of the old Rec Centre - may repeat itself in Hay River, and town council is planning ahead to pay for replacing the still-new Rec Centre. NNSL file photo
Decades from now, this scene from 2016 – the demolition of the old Rec Centre – may repeat itself in Hay River, and town council is planning ahead to pay for replacing the still-new Rec Centre.
NNSL file photo

A special rider charged by the Town of Hay River on recreation fees appears to not be going anywhere anytime soon.

At its April 29 meeting, town council passed first and second reading of a bylaw that would maintain a 10 per cent – or $10 an hour – rider on recreation fees.

Council was expected to pass third reading of the bylaw on Tuesday evening, which was past The Hub’s deadline.

The rider has been applied to Rec Centre usage-based invoicing since 2011.

It was created to help pay for the new Rec Centre itself, and will be remaining to build up reserve funds to help pay for a replacement Rec Centre, mostly likely decades from now.

Coun. Keith Dohey questioned why the rider remains in the bylaw.

“The standard was that this was added to user fees from the user groups – minor hockey, figure skating and whatnot – as part of their registration fees and carried over to go into the new facility. That new facility is built now,” he said. “We’re still looking at carrying that 10 per cent over.”

Glenn Smith, the town’s assistant senior administrative officer, explained that keeping the 10 per cent rider would maintain a revenue-neutral position.

“We didn’t want to be in a revenue-loss position,” he said. “So we’re taking that 10 per cent and put it into our standard rec rates.”

Smith suggested that would be “keeping the rates the same” by rolling the 10 per cent into the actual published rates.

Dohey didn’t agree with that thinking.

“This amounts to another 10 per cent increase by the end of the day,” he said, adding he fears that, if recreation fees get too high, they could affect participation in programming at the Rec Centre.

Smith defended the view that there would be no increase in fees.

“I just want to clarify there isn’t an actual increase to the rates specific to that 10 per cent because it is something that they were paying since 2011, and from our indications it looks as if that – what we’re calling again a rider – the intention was for it to be in perpetuity to feed the rec reserve moving forward for that rec facility replacement,” he said.

Mayor Kandis Jameson observed that the town is just following the existing bylaw, which states that money needs to be put away into a reserve to build another Rec Centre sometime in the future.

“I’m good with that,” said Dohey, although he reserved the right to bring the matter up again in the future.

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