NORTH PERTH – Council decided on Oct. 4 not to support a reduction of ice rates for minor sports in North Perth facilities.
On Sept. 13, members of the Listowel Minor Hockey Association came as a delegation to present their concerns surrounding minor hockey costs. The association is finding it increasingly challenging to operate its program based on the cost of ice and a decrease in registrations. The group requested a further discounted rate above the current youth rate.
Listowel Minor Hockey also came as a delegation to the Recreation Advisory Committee (RAC) on Sept. 28 and made a similar presentation regarding its economic challenges.
Following the presentation, members of RAC discussed the circumstances faced by operating community facilities where revenues have decreased from cancelled rental agreements and increasing costs associated with their operations. RAC recommended that North Perth should not support a reduction in ice rates.
Coun. Lee Anne Andriessen said she thought the report was very wise in terms of the recommendation but she wanted to hear more about the discussion RAC had because she empathizes with the struggles of the clubs.
“We did talk about the decrease in revenues for our operations,” said Jeff Newell, manager of facilities. “As an example, we just lost 12 hours of rental time at the Elma Logan Complex with minor hockey. They reduced their ice requirements.”
He said they are also using security guards to do screening for vaccine passports.
“Our expenses with regard to staffing and hydro, all those expenses remain high,” said Newell. “Note also, there is a youth rate that is applied to minor hockey and it’s already subsidized at approximately 20 per cent of what the adult rate is and that is comparable to other municipalities.”
He said there was some discussion such as reducing ice time for teams or booking ice time in non-primetime hours which would save money.
“Again, it is non-primetime for a reason. That would be early mornings or late evenings but that would be at a reduced rate.”
Andriessen said she thought the problems could be cyclical.
“If the hockey associations are struggling to get memberships and they aren’t able to pay for these ice times, that’s going to reduce our revenue again,” she said. “I’m struggling with the fact that they may not be able to purchase as many ice times which in the end is going to also provide less revenue for us. So this is definitely not a win-win.”
Coun. Rothwell raised the point that council desired to look at how this would apply to all ice sports, not just hockey.
“I do credit staff with pointing out where we are in terms of revenues and expenses and it’s extremely difficult, the times we’re in, and I think you don’t want to be ‘Captain Obvious,’ but you need to be sometimes, is that our increased costs have to be met in some way and it’s either the user is paying their proportional share or it’s the tax base that is going to basically subsidize that,” he said. “Council has been clear in previous budgets of trying to have a user-pay system in place but I do credit … Listowel Minor Hockey, they are looking at different ways of trying to raise funds to be able to offset the increased costs.”
North Perth council followed the recommendation of the RAC and voted in favour of not supporting the request for a reduction of ice rates to minor sports groups.
Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner