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COLUMN: Midland should charge out-of-towners more to play at rec centre

While neighbours might not like it, charging higher user fees for non-Midland residents makes economic sense
2022-01-26 rink1
One of the rinks at the North Simcoe Sports and Recreation Centre.

As the Town of Midland grapples with what to do about North Simcoe Sports and Recreation Centre user fees, the answer to their collective problem seems relatively straightforward.

Although it might not be a popular option with its neighbours, the town should just make user fees higher for those who don’t live within the town limits.

And this doesn’t seem like a really difficult thing to accomplish. No head scratching or abacuses required for this accounting marvel.

Just encourage the associations and groups using the centre to charge participants more based on where they reside.

Let’s say a Midland resident pays $800 to play hockey annually, just increase the amount to $950 for those who don’t pay taxes to the grand corporation headquartered at the corner of Dominion Avenue and Third Street.

This is not a new idea either as many other municipalities have been doing this kind of thing for years.

And all Midland councillors have to do is look towards neighbouring Tiny Township to really see how it’s done.

As most locals likely recall, the township is well versed in this strategy when it comes to keeping the riff raff (aka anyone not from Tiny) off its beloved beaches.

While township residents can get a free beach pass along with another one for a small fee, townees must pay roughly $100 for one of the few passes the township makes available.

And while the Tiny resident’s pass doesn’t feature a licence plate, anyone not living in the grand land of crystal clear water gets a pass specific to one vehicle. That ensures there’s no sharing of the coveted permit.

As well, Tiny, Tay and Georgian Bay Township residents pay lower taxes than Midland residents because they don’t have the same level of services.

And should the town have the courage to do this, it can expect a strong outcry from the various hockey, lacrosse and basketball groups who voiced their opposition to the proposed hike during a recent pre-budget meeting.

The most vocal outcry came from members, participants and parents of the Midland Minor Hockey Association who addressed their concerns against the proposed 33 per cent user-fee hike to hourly youth ice rentals.

Town staff project the fee alignment would increase revenue by roughly $300,000 annually for the facility built in 2004. User fees charged at the NSSRC are also lower than some municipalities within Simcoe County, and the proposal was aimed at matching user fees with Barrie for comparative services.

But doing the right thing by your residents makes sense.

Those living in Midland shouldn’t have to foot the entire estimated $1 million subsidy needed to keep the rec centre’s lights glowing.

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Andrew Philips

About the Author: Andrew Philips

Editor Andrew Philips is a multiple award-winning journalist whose writing has appeared in some of the country’s most respected news outlets. Originally from Midland, Philips returned to the area from Québec City a decade ago.
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