The rates for recreation and community buildings are increasing by five per cent.
Wes Amendt, director of community services for the Town of Ponoka, brought back the rates schedule to councillors Feb. 11 after it was tabled last month.
He feels the increase is reasonable. “We’re still in the middle compared to other communities.”
Mayor Rick Bonnett questioned why out of town users and commercial groups pay more than what the regular rates are. “It just seems it’s kind of a big deterrent…Is it not better to have it utilized,” he asked.
If local groups are not using Ponoka’s facilities, then he feels outside users should get a break on the cost. Amendt said there are not many people outside of Ponoka that use the town’s recreation and community buildings.
“I can understand that with these rates,” replied Bonnett.
Coun. Tim Falkiner was not in favour of the hike and used the ball diamonds as an example. “We need to look at filling these ball diamonds.”
He suggests the fees are too high and are a hindrance for people coming from outside of Ponoka. With staff already maintaining the town’s recreation areas, Falkiner suggests a lower price would help promote more events in town and increase spending at local businesses.
Amendt said he has been working with Sarah Olson, economic development officer, to put together packages for groups that do use Ponoka’s services. The package would include coupons to different areas such as the Aquaplex and arena.
Coun. Loanna Gulka said she understood Falkiner’s concerns but commented on the recreation deficit. “I agree with the thinking outside the box aspect…Recreation is one of the biggest deficits that this town runs. It’s a constant deficit.”
Coun. Marc Yaworski suggested having an empty field is worse. “If they’re sitting there making no money, best to get something for them.”
“Maybe it is something we should make a decision on before spring,” he added.
Coun. Carla Prediger suggested council and administration should conduct some strategic planning for the future.
Rates for the Aquaplex remain unchanged as they were increased last year. The new rates become effective March 1.