Raise Recreation, Parks Fees: Report







Report on report. City of Mississauga officials and dmA Planning & Management representatives presented their draft Pricing Study report for proposed changes to fees for recreations programs and services last night at Noel Ryan Auditorium. Here, Wendy Donovan, a principal at dmA Planning & Management, explains why the study. Staff photo by Julia Le

Mississauga residents might soon be paying more to access the City’s recreation programs and services.  Residents could see an average increase of 3.7 per cent in user fees if City Council approves a report created by City of Mississauga officials and consultants from dmA Planning & Management.
At a meeting last night held at the Central Library to get public input on proposed changes to fees, residents were told by Wendy Donovan, who was representing dmA Planning & Management, that the cost of running recreation programs — aquatics, arenas, community programs, fitness, active living programs, golf, meeting rooms and sports fields — is rising far more quickly than the revenue the City receives from users.  
Those in attendance were also presented with 24 recommendations that included replacing current, inconsistent pricing with a single 20 per cent discount for older adults, people with disabilities, students and youth, and having a more uniform price for membership fees, drop-in programs and meeting room rates.
Donovan told attendees that the recommendations come from a hard look at the current rates and program categories, best practices of other municipalities and financial data.

In the past, the City updated its fees by adding a routine, annual percentage to cover inflation. However, Donovan says, in order to maintain community access to programs, the City needs to look at simplifying and streamlining its pricing.  The City has been working with the consultants at the request of City Council.
The Pricing Study Report suggests ways to balance fees and taxes and affordability, while taking into account the city’s demographics and the needs of residents.
“There are segments of society in every community that need help,” said Donovan. “Whether they’re people on disability, people who receive some type of social assistance, young people who are just starting out in life and have mortgages and children and have not reached the top of their earning capacity, (they) have a greater need for financial support and there are beliefs in those communities that there should be mechanisms to provide that financial support.”
The City’s manager of business planning Derek Boyce adds the fees take into account clients’ ability to pay and the study allows the City to better anticipate market trends to make adjustments to program and service choices.

Also among the report’s recommendations is consolidating fees for similar programs and services. That will reduce 256 unique fees to 34 hourly fees.
Boyce said the public meetings are meant to educate the public and cover areas they may have missed. He said they’re rationalizing a price that is more “equitable for all users, but having said that we’ll see some users that will see some significant increases and we’re going to work with those groups in January and February to talk about some of the issues, see where they are and that consultation will guide what we ultimately recommend to Council.”  
In January and February, officials will meet with sports groups to get their feedback.
If approved by Council, the recommendations will be implemented next year and in 2013.
For more information, visit www.mississauga.ca/pricingstudy or call 905-615-3200, ext. 4773.