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Recreation facility fees for non-profits up for review in Banff

Banff council will look into potentially lowering costs of Town-owned recreational facilities and rental fees for non-profit groups.
Banff Bear Hessa Ousman tries to tackle during the Bears girls' rugby team practice at the Fenlands Banff Recreation Centre on Tuesday (April 19). JUNGMIN HAM RMO PHOTO

BANFF – Banff council will look into potentially lowering costs of Town-owned recreational facilities and rental fees for non-profit groups.

The item will be in front of council before July following the Banff Bears men’s rugby club’s presentation at the May 23 meeting, when concerns were brought forward surrounding usage fees at the new seasonal field house at the Fenlands Banff Recreation Centre and the not-yet-open pavilion at Banff Recreation Grounds.

The fees are “quite a financial burden” that are difficult to overcome without substantially increasing dues and potentially limiting those wanting to participate, said Bears head coach Lee Garrett.

“We believe the current fee schedule is unattainable for the rugby club to host approximately six to eight home games per year, depending on the success of our season, and we are requesting council consider waiving, reducing or restricting these fees,” said Garrett.

“We would love to see a revision a as local non-profit group being encouraged to use these facilities.”

For a two-hour training session on the indoor turf at Fenlands, the Bears pay $300. As an alternative, the team has been using the high school gym at $60 for two hours.

“We operate on a very limited budget and we rely heavily on donations and sponsors to sustain our operations,” said Garrett. “It would be really unfortunate to see the longest provincially competing team in Banff to be unable to use such a facility.”

The club also expressed concern over what fees would be at the new rec grounds pavilion, a public facility that is tentatively set to open in July. In rugby culture, it’s custom the home team hosts the visiting team after matches.

The pavilion will be free to use to the public. However, for exclusive use of the entire pavilion, or for use of certain features such as the showers, rates will apply.

A $550 rate for 12 hours has been proposed for exclusive use of the pavilion, which is in line with other municipalities, according to the Town.

More wallet-friendly options have been proposed such as a $75 per day use of the separate outdoor BBQ area, which includes a picnic area and outdoor sink, and $60 to $90 per day for use of the showers. The cost is for maintenance.

Alison Gerrits, Banff’s director of community services, said administration would review fees of Town-owned rec facilities should council direct them.

“With respect to the approach and the philosophy council has applied to recreation from a universal access perspective, and I believe the $10 Banff activity pass was mentioned, that is direction that administration would take at any point in time should you wish to apply the same approach to facility rentals,” said Gerrits.

Mayor Corrie DiManno said should council pass a future motion, it will be broad based to serve the community.

“It can’t just be for one group, because that’s just not how we do things here. We have to look at everybody,” DiManno said.

The mayor also added that if the Town isn’t receiving user fees from groups to help cover costs on facility use, then it would come from increased tax support.

“(…) But that’s the way it works,” she said. “I would be interested to hear from other non profits if they struggle with the fees. I hadn’t heard of anything until today, so again, curious to get the information.”

Administration has been directed to return to a council meeting before July on options to adjust recreational and rental fees for non-profit organizations.

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

An award-winning reporter, Jordan Small has covered sports, the arts, and news in the Bow Valley since 2014. Originally from Barrie, Ont., Jordan has lived in Alberta since 2013.
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