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Penticton brings in new rates for park donations

Dedicating a picnic table in 2013 is going to be more expensive as Penticton updates its park donation policy, including a new pricing structure.

In 2012, the cost to donate or dedicate a bench was set at $1,400 and a picnic table at $1,200. Those rates will rise to $2,500 and $3,000, respectively,  in the first increase the program has seen since 2003.

“The picnic table rates were below cost and the city did that strategically to raise more donations for picnic tables. In actuality we were subsidizing the installation of tables, but at the end of the day, we got a lot of donations that way,” said parks supervisor Jeff Lynka, adding that the policy served its purpose, resulting in nearly every bench and table being donated.

Since 1996, through the current gifting program, Penticton has received over $357,000 in donations resulting in 237 park benches, 50 permanent picnic tables and 27 trees.

“We are finding that potential donors keep knocking on our door, wanting to donate to our infrastructure, and benches and tables are a really good way to do that. Just about every bench and table we have out there has now been donated,” said Lynka, explaining that the desire is now to redirect donors into other infrastructure, like bike racks and planters.

However, some councillors are concerned that the price jump may discourage donations instead.

“I am concerned that this will inhibit the wonderful response you’ve cultivated with the community. If we set the bar too high and the portion coming from the community donating falls off, I think we lose,” said Coun. Judy Sentes, who liked some aspects of the policy revision, but was concerned that the city would end up carrying the load for the full cost of the benches and tables.

“I support the policy, I don’t support the pricing. If we don’t have the gifting program successful, then we are supporting the full cost,” she said. “You have a wonderful program going. I like the way you are enhancing it, I am just concerned that you have adjusted the rates too much.”

According to Lynka’s report, the $2,500 only represents a brand new bench in a brand new location. Refurbished benches and tables would cost $1,600 and $1,200. The new rates will, however, recover all the costs for labour, equipment, materials and administration costs for the initial installation.

The policy has also been expanded to include a wider range of infrastructure and related items, at a variety of costs for the person wishing to donate. A bike rack would be a $1,000 donation to dedicate, while a pet stand or a hanging basket would be a $300 donation. On the higher end of the scale, the list includes a range of sponsorships for park improvement projects, topping out at platinum with a $10,000 donation. Those might include gazebos, park shelters, playground equipment or other large park projects.

“We have just about enough benches in our parks as it is. By raising the price, hopefully it will direct donors to other projects for infrastructure that we really do need,” said Lynka.

“We are well below the donation rates that other cities are asking for these programs. So this new program brings us up to par. If we do set rates and we do find it has deterred donors, we could review it a year from now.”

Penticton city council voted unanimously to endorse the new policy.

 

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