A fee to use strollers at the city’s Fieldhouse has been removed after a mother lodged a complaint.
Aya Burshan, who had a baby in August and is currently on parental leave, wanted an easy way to get out and exercise.
“Not so much to lose weight, but also to have something to do and actually I see it as more of a mental health exercise,” said Burshan.
It’s difficult for new moms to get out and socialize, especially in the winter with babies that need to be close by at all times, she said.
Burshan bought a $59 membership, plus tax, to use the city’s recreation facilities, including the Fieldhouse so she could walk on the track while her baby slept in the stroller. The policy at the Fieldhouse didn’t allow people to bring their own strollers into the facility, but provided indoor ones for a fee.
“I went and I got a month membership, and I needed to use the stroller and I had to pay another dollar,” she said. “And I realized that I’m paying for a membership and every single time I go there I pay extra to use a stroller.”
Burshan said she found the fee ridiculous.
“Because I’m being charged a surcharge, you know, a child tax just because I want to exercise and I had to take my baby with me, and I didn’t think it was right,” she said.
Burshan started asking around to see what other caregivers and grandparents at the facility thought of the surcharge, and many of them agreed with her. And while an extra dollar to use a single stroller or two dollars for a double may not seem like much, those costs add up.
“If you’re going there maybe four times, if you’re ambitious, and you get to go there five times a week that’s twenty extra dollars (per month) on top of your membership,” said Burshan.
She sent an email to the city outlining her concerns in early December.
In her correspondence, she described the toll for strollers as “a bit fishy” and “discriminating based on family status.”
Burshan let her membership lapse until she got a reply from the city in late January.
Facilities manager Johanna Elliot responded that she believed the charge was set up to replace the city strollers when they fail.
“I have taken your points into consideration and agree that an additional charge for a tool that parents require and that helps keep our patrons safe and our facility clean is not required,” Elliot wrote, adding that there would be no charge to use the strollers in the future.
Burshan said she was happy with the city’s response and was satisfied that they took her concerns seriously.
“I was glad it worked; apparently sending letters works,” she said.