High ice fees, capital weighing on parks and recreation budget

Parks and Recreation Division Manager Christine Lefebvre, right, and General Manager Stephen Alexander present their budget to the budget steering committee on Jan. 30, 2015. The department is facing an increase of nearly nine per cent due to shrinking revenue and a big to-do project list. (Cornwall Newswatch/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – Cornwall’s recreation department is anticipating a squeeze on its revenue for 2015, which could be partially attributed to high ice fees.

Parks and Recreation General Manager Stephen Alexander and Division Manager Christine Lefebvre presented their departmental budget Friday afternoon.

The parks and recreation department is facing a budget increase of 8.93 per cent or nearly $600,000 due to a drop in revenue and lofty list of capital projects.

The department is anticipating about $3 million in revenue for 2015 while capital projects will mean a strain on the money coming in.

Their report shows several adult regular hockey clients have cancelled their request for ice as of September last year which has put a ding in expected money coming in. “We are still reviewing that (the year-end revenue numbers) so we may be able to come to the table with additional revenues,” said Lefebvre.

“We have people explaining our price of ice is getting high,” Lefebvre said, noting a recent report in the Standard-Freeholder that Cornwall has some of the highest ice costs in the region.

“Our fees are a little bit high for adults,” Lefebvre said, but the recreation committee will review those fees this year.

“That’s what I’m hearing…the price is too high (but) when a bunch of guys have to kick in an extra $2, I don’t buy that,” Coun. Claude McIntosh said.

“It’s just getting ridiculous. It’s no wonder the kids aren’t playing hockey,” added Coun. Mark MacDonald.

But the fee schedule has its supporters. “As for your user fee policy, I think it’s right on,” Coun. Andre Rivette said, “Some of the areas we subsidize but the ratepayers are paying their share. I don’t think we should deviate from it (the user fee policy).”

Lefebvre says the fee structure for all the recreational programs – not just ice time – will be going through a thorough review this year.

As for the capital projects, the parks and recreation department has a big list including replacing the pool deck and three heat exchangers at the Aquatic Center, fixing up filtration systems at the city wading pools, repairing bike paths, replacing partitions in the washrooms at the Civic Complex and replacing a play structure at Snetsinger Park.

The parks and rec manager also said they were able to cut back on overtime hours last year – a reduction of roughly $12,000 – through better scheduling and planning.

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