Higher user rates coming for Abbey Centre
For the first time in four years, Abbey Centre users will be asked to pay a little more to use the facility.
As of Jan. 1, 2018, admission, punch pass and membership rates will all see a slight increase.
Children aged three to seven, 13 to 17, adults and seniors, as well as family admission will all see their current rates jump by 50 cents.
Youth aged eight to 12 - a new rate category for the Abbey Centre moving forward - will see their rates jump by a full dollar.
Punch passes meanwhile, will jump five dollars for children, nine dollars for youth, $4.50 for teenagers, adults, seniors and families.
Monthly memberships have also been adjusted to reflect the price of five regular admissions - rising about $2.50 in every category, except for youth, which jumped five dollars.
Annual memberships have also been adjusted to reflect new admission rates.
Those two years of age and under will continue to have free admission.
The raising of rates, however, didn’t sit well with some Blackfalds town councillors during their regular meeting on Tuesday.
Coun. Laura Svab wondered why the Town of Blackfalds was charging nine dollars more than some surrounding areas for children and youth, a sentiment echoed by Coun. Rebecca Stendie.
“I was having a look at some of the day rates - we’re actually quite a bit higher than a lot of areas around us,” she said.
She note G.H. Dawe Community Centre in Red Deer only charges $3.25 for those between the ages of three and 12, while the Abbey Centre admission for the same age groups will now be a full two dollars higher, while day passes offer users access to not only the pool, but other recreational areas within the city.
“That’s a lot. We can’t offer that, but we’re going to charge more? That doesn’t make sense to me.”
Director of Community Services Sean Barnes said increasing rates wasn’t a decision that was made lightly.
“It is higher in some areas. We know that,” he said. “We haven’t had too many people complain about our fee structure. We’ve actually had people tell us in the summer time that our fees are good.
“We’re just trying to make sure we are keeping that 55-60 per cent recovery rate on the Abbey Centre.”
Rates for the facility were originally established on the recommendation of RC Strategies, given their involvement in the recreation field, on what rates should be for Central Alberta.
Given other municipalities are going through budget processes, themselves, it’s also possible rates for other facilities could jump in the New Year as well.
Coun. Marina Appel, who is the council representative on the Recreation, Culture and Parks Board, explained the board felt the increases were not out of line.
“When we discussed it, it didn’t seem like the rates were that much larger than what people were already used to paying,” Appel said. “They’re so minimal. Family memberships are only going up a total of six dollars.”
Child minding punch passes will also see an increase of 6-10 dollars, depending on if it’s a single child or family pass.
Council voted 5-2 in favour of amending the bylaw governing recreation facility user fees. Svab and Stendie were opposed.
Third reading will come back to council at the next regular council meeting on Dec. 12 at 7 p.m.