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Coldstream against Vernon’s two-tiered recreation fee structure

Electoral Areas B and C are also opposed to the system
The District of Coldstream and Electoral Areas B and C voiced their opposition to Vernon’s two-tiered recreation pricing system. (Morning Star file photo)

The District of Coldstream and Electoral Areas B and C are not happy with Vernon’s plans to create a two-tiered pricing system that would give Vernon residents a discount on recreation services.

Vernon council has decided to move forward with the proposed recreation pricing system that would give locals a 50 per cent discount on recreation programs as well as early access to registration, while non-Vernon residents pay full price.

Coldstream and the electoral areas say they are concerned about the two-tiered price structure “and its implications for the costs and accessibility of recreation for all users.”

Coldstream officials argue the change will lead to more uncertainty, decreased usage and increased administration costs.

While the proposed system would provide locals with discounts, the officials claim it would in fact lead to a “significantly increased financial burden on Vernon residents.”

“Coldstream and Areas B and C also wish to be clear that they have historically made, and continue to make presently, significant investments into Greater Vernon Recreation assets, including continuing to pay debt servicing costs on the Kal Tire Place expansion in the amount of $139,751 in 2023,” a press release states.

Coldstream and Areas B and C say they have proposed a fee for service arrangement to fund recreation services. The proposal included a one-time 11 per cent increase in the annual grant amount from $1,280,644 in 2023 to $1,421,515 in 2024, as well as annual consumer price index protection in 2025-26.

“We strongly feel that we have made a compelling offer – significantly more than was provided in 2023, significantly more than CPI and significantly more than will be achievable through a two-tiered fee structure. However, we also have to balance the desire to reach an agreement with our other objectives of financial stewardship and the demands of all the other services that we provide to our public,” the officials said.

The officials claim an 11 per cent tax increase to enhance recreation is “not an unsubstantial offer,” adding what has been proposed by Vernon would require a cost increase for recreation services to Coldstream and Areas B and C of 27 per cent, which would be funded by taxpayer dollars.

“It should be noted that for the past decade, the City of Vernon has had sole control of the operation, administration and maintenance of recreation in the Greater Vernon area. Coldstream and Electoral Areas B and C are not involved in the operations and consequently were not involved in the decisions that lead to a cost structure resulting in those types of taxation requests,” the press release reads.

The officials assert that Coldstream’s offer to contribute more than $1.4 million plus inflation protection through their shared grant service to support Vernon recreation operations is appropriate given “the economic realities faced in all communities and that inclusion of this funding will result in a stronger recreation service for all jurisdictions, including the City of Vernon.

“We share concerns that the overall burden to the public will be increased by the administrative challenges of a two-tiered system, and that such a system will result in decreased usage of facilities by the public.”

Coldstream and the electoral areas remain open to a fee for service agreement, which they say can be accomplished through the established joint service at the Regional District of North Okanagan to fund recreation services with the city of Vernon.

READ MORE: Recreation discounts, program priority at play for Vernon residents

READ MORE: Proposed tiered pricing would give Vernon residents recreation discounts

Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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