A local swim club is finding the fees charged to use the Ravensong Aquatic Centre are more expensive compared to other swimming facilities on Vancouver Island.
Byron Trajan, head coach of the Ravensong Aquatic Club, has requested a reduced fee from the District 69 Recreation Commission.
At present, the club’s team, the Ravensong Breakers, has 41 members. It’s a small club, said Trajan, with members coming from various areas in the Regional District of Nanaimo, from Nanoose Bay to Bowser.
Trajan informed the commission that local swimmers and families pay “significantly higher pool rental fees than other swim clubs on the Island.”
Currently, the club is charged about $15 per lane per hour, which Trajan estimates to be around $37,000 in annual fees it has to cover for the year.
At other swimming facilities, such as the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre, the fee is $10.86 per lane, while at the Comox Valley Aquatic Centre the charge is $12.65 per lane.
“Despite fundraising efforts throughout the season, our high pool costs and subsequent club fees are discouraging new members from joining the club,” he said.
Trajan said the fees are leading families to opt for fewer swim meets and limiting other RDN activities their children can attend due to the high cost.
Trajan asked the commission to adjust the lane fees to bring them more in line with other pools on the Island.
“We want to make our club financially accessible to as many of our youth in the RDN as possible,” he said.
Dean Banman, RDN manager of recreation services, said the RDN has had a good relationship with the swim club. He said staff checked the Ravensong rate and compared it to other pools on the Island. Banman said the fees the local club pays are not the highest in the region.
The club, Banman said, has been successful in the past in landing grants from the RDN and will again benefit from funding assistance this year. He indicated that this helps ease their costs.
As well, the club is not being charged to use the other amenities in the pool, such as the hot tub, steam and the sauna, said Banman.
Banman said the RDN has looked at ways to come up with the best cost for the club and also for opportunities for the group to generate some funds.
“I am not sure if they are aware of it but we’ve allowed them to sell some signage around the pool as a way of sponsorship and fundraising to help with their fees,” said Banman.
The user rates of the pool are reviewed by a District 69 Recreation Commission sub-committee every three years. The next one is due in August of 2019. Banman said the RDN will again do an analysis of the pool’s user rate and compare it to other facilities on the Island, as well as look for ways to reduce the cost to local clubs.
Banman advised against rolling it back now, and the commission agreed.
Bill Veenhof, Electoral Area H director and RDN chair, encouraged staff to direct the club to recreational grants to assist them but “I would not support changing fees in mid-stream.”