Committee deadlocked on District 69 arena rate increase

Parksville’s Fras says fee hikes will make facilities inaccessible to many

The New Oceanside Services Committee doesn’t mind changing the name District 69 to Oceanside but was not able to agree on a proposed increase in the rates for arena and aquatic services.

The name change was proposed in the District 69 arena and aquatic services fees and changes amendment bylaws that were introduced for three readings at the committee’s inaugural meeting on May 16.

The vote for the arena motion ended in a 3-3 tie. Electoral Area G (Dashwood, Englishman River, French Creek) director and committee chair, Clarke Gourlay, Area E (Nanoose Bay) director Bob Rogers, and Town of Qualicum director Brian Wiese voted in favour of the motion but Parksville directors Ed Mayne and Adam Fras, and Electoral Area H (Shaw Hill, Deep Bay, Bowser) director Stuart McLean opposed it. The aquatic fees and changes amendment bylaws were not even considered as there was no seconder to the motion.

“I don’t mind the name change portion of it from District 69 to Oceanside but I am not in favour of increasing the fees” said Fras. “We already have some of the highest fees in the mid-island region. This increase that is coming up I think it just further makes it inaccessible for many.”

McLean does not find the arena and aquatic admission rate hikes too onerous but considers the facility rental rates to be already higher than others in the region. He asked staff why the increase is necessary.

Regional District of Nanaimo general manager of recreation and parks Tom Osborne explained that the percentage taken from the fees and rentals that contribute to each facility varies. However, he pointed out that there is a subsidy component included in the bylaws. He indicated that youth rental and admission fees are subsidized at a higher rate than adults.

Osborne said that recommended increases are in line with the five-year financial plan that was approved by the RDN board. He also pointed out that there are some rates that were not adjusted for 2019-20 due to the reason that Fras just stated.

Fras pointed out that increasing the arena rentals will have an adverse impact on recreational groups such as hockey teams who frequently use the facility.

“A lot of times when they organize a group, it takes about 20 guys or so or 20 people to go and form these teams,” said Fras. “So when the cost gets prohibitive for one or two families, that can be enough to knock out an entire team and they have to share that cost amongst all of them. This might seem like very small amounts but the’re not just a one time that they’re using this. These are groups that are repeatedly using this.”

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