It is about to get more expensive for most users of Penticton’s ice arenas and the almost renovated Penticton Community Centre.
Penticton council voted Monday evening to raise the most utilized rental-fee categories of usage at McLaren Arena by seven per cent per an hour for youth and 31 per cent hourly for adults (compared to September 2010 rates).
The changes will manifest in hourly ice rates of $73.54 for non-profit local regular youth rentals, equating to about a $32 increase for minor hockey registration. Adult rentals with the same stipulations will now cost $138.94 an hour.
As pointed out in last year’s core services review of city operations, most of McLaren Arena’s ice rates were significantly lower than those charged at similar arenas throughout the Thompson Okanagan. Monday’s move brings the rental rates to within 95 per cent of the regional average.
It also means that there will be decreases in most of the dry-floor rates and some of the non-regular ice rates, although those make up a minute portion of McLaren Arena’s overall usage.
Originally, Coun. Mike Pearce had proposed that the rates be brought to within 100 per cent of the regional average, however, that was defeated in a 3-3 vote, with Councillors Judy Sentes, Andrew Jakubeit and Garry Litke (Coun. Dan Albas is on a leave of absence).
“It is not the fault of the users that our rates have fallen so far out of sync with the rest of the region,” said Likte of the 100-per-cent proposal. “To now attempt to correct the error of the last 10 to 15 years in an one-year rate increase I think is draconian.
“It will make it unaffordable for many of our user groups.”
After some debate and jockeying for position, the 95-per cent harmonization number was agreed upon, with only Jakubeit, asserting that youth rates should be increased incrementally, voting against it.
Coun. John Vassilaki argued that considering the vast reductions council has made at City Hall over last year in order to rein in the municipality’s structural deficit, raising user fees for facilities that will still be heavily subsidized by the city is the right thing to do.
“We laid off 36 employees in order to help balance our budget,” said Vassilaki. “Our staff has suffered. Now it is time for the public to step up and help out.”
Council also voted Monday — this time unanimously — to increase pool fees at the PCC by roughly 50 per cent.
Adjusting all but two of the drop-in rates to above the regional averages, PCC pool admissions will now cost $1.70 for preschoolers, $3.90 for children, $4.45 for youth, $5.80 for adults, $4.45 for seniors and $14.40 for a family.
Admission to the larger fitness room — though unchanged equipment-wise — will go up by 10 per cent, making a one-month pass $36.45 for youth, $49.30 for adults and $36.45 for seniors.
“We are not even talking about the same facility,” said Mayor Dan Ashton of the $23.3 million worth of renovations at the PCC which expanded and improved its pool.
“We are talking about probably (one of) the most premier facilities in the Valley, almost on par with Kelowna’s H2O.”
The core services review also found Memorial Arena’s ice rates to be out of step with the regional average. Council heard Monday that a proposal to bring those fees in line is also on the horizon, perhaps with a 13 per cent increase to some fees.