Oak Bay park user fees slated to rise

If approved, increases would be phased in over three years

Council is on a path to up user fees for playing fields in Oak Bay after a review of regional versus local pricing.

Oak Bay Parks and Recreation Commission sought an analysis of perk permit fees during 2014 budget discussions, including the potential for different youth and adult rates. They found Oak Bay has lower rates than neighbouring communities, with a park permit rate of $14 for four hours, or $3.50 an hour, with no differentiation between youth and adult use.

To make things more complicated, two user groups pay additional costs for field maintenance due to historical arrangements. If council accepts the rate changes and other staff suggestions, those agreements would terminate in September 2017 when the park permit fee increases would complete phasing in.

“The commission has proposed a nominal increase in park permit fees to be in line with Victoria and Esquimalt. Our fees have been the lowest compared to our neighbours for a long time,” said Coun. Tara Ney, liaison to the commission. “The increase in permit fees is about fairness, streamlining administration of field use, and good fiscal management.”

Staff recommended the phased approach to bring youth users to a base rate near $6.42 plus annual increases and adults groups to double the youth rate. Annual increases are expected of around two per cent.

“This in not a heavy-handed rate increase by any means, but does work towards good fiscal management of the facility,” Ney said. “Though we have so far consulted with field user groups about this increase, we intend to consult further to ensure this park permit fee increase does not impose any unforeseen hardship on any one field user group.”

The recommendation would likely come up again for council during budget conversations in the new year after further discussion with field user groups.

“This is an opportunity to do some administrative cleanup, make it more streamlined,” Ney said. “It becomes a municipally wide policy if it’s supported.”

 

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com

 

 

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