MEDIA RELEASE: Port Coquitlam Moves Forward With Affordability For Return Of Rec Services
PORT COQUITLAM, BC, July 14, 2021. . . Port Coquitlam is moving forward with freezing recreation admission fees and implementing other changes to encourage participation and reduce financial barriers when facilities start to reopen later this year.
Port Coquitlam Council approved the first three readings at last night’s Council meeting, to a proposed updated fee schedule that eliminates fees for “super seniors” (age 80 plus), a first of its kind in the Tri-Cities region, expands the preschool age category (up to 4 years), keeps recreation admission and facility rental fees at pre-pandemic levels, along with other changes to improve access to recreation services.
The Fees and Changes Amendment Bylaw is scheduled for Council adoption on July 27 and would take effect Sept. 1 – shortly before B.C.’s Restart Plan is anticipated to move to Step 4, the full reopening.
“While we’re all looking ahead to providing the full offering of city recreation programs and services, it’s important to recognize that cost continues to be a barrier that prevents some of our residents from fully participating – and we’re taking action to address that,” Mayor Brad West said. “By freezing recreation fees for everyone, and providing free admission to “super seniors” over the age of 80 and children four years and under, we’ll be making a real difference in assisting our residents to access recreation opportunities.”
The City typically reviews its fees and charges each year, but delayed the 2020 review due to the pandemic. The Bylaw does not include recreation program registration fees, which are based on cost-recovery and available subsidies.
The proposed changes would:
- Skip the typical inflationary increase to admission and facility rental fees – effectively freezing fees at rates from early 2020;
- Eliminate admission and membership fees for super seniors 80 years and older to support active aging, increase participation and reduce barriers;
- Expand the preschool age category to 0-4 years with no fees;
- Formally add waived fees for personal assistants who support recreation patrons, ensuring equitable access to recreation services for people of all abilities;
- Include a subsidized rate for youth and youth non-profit groups for picnic shelter bookings;
- Reduce the duration of picnic shelter bookings to four hours to allow more people to book these popular facilities and;
- Expand the inventory of bookable facilities to include tennis, pickleball and basketball courts, along with new Port Coquitlam Community Centre amenities due for completion this fall, such as Arena 1, gymnasium, large hall and other spaces.
“These changes continue to show our city as a leader in providing much-needed support to our residents,” noted Cllr. Steve Darling, Council’s designate for recreation matters. “It’s another step toward preparing to welcome the community back to our facilities.”
In addition to affordability during the pandemic, factors the City considers when setting its prices include the local market (pricing, supply and demand), the cost of similar services elsewhere, inflation, and other changes to operating costs.
The proposed fee schedule complements the City’s other recent measures to reduce financial barriers and improve access to recreation services. For example, changes to the financial assistance policy earlier this year have provided qualifying residents with free access to recreation drop-in activities for all ages, increased subsidies for children and youth program and camp fees, and made it easier to access discounts for recreation services.
Port Coquitlam also offers the following assistance:
- One-on-one support for children and youth in registered activities through the Leisure Buddy Program.
- Funding for children and youth with socioeconomic barriers to participate in organized sport and recreation in partnership with Canadian Tire Jumpstart.
- Free and low-cost opportunities in swimming, skating and arts and culture.
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Acting Manager of Communications
City of Port Coquitlam