Barrie rec fee cuts endorsed by mayoral candidate Hamilton
By IAN MCINROY Barrie Examiner September 16 2010
Mayoral candidate Rob Hamilton wants to help working families and their children, as well as seniors, gain better access to the city’s recreational facilities. He outlined his plans during a news conference near the Holly Community Centre in the city’s south end Wednesday afternoon.
Hamilton said he has consistently heard from residents that quality, accessible and affordable recreation programs are important.
“Families, seniors and young children want to be able to take swimming and skating lessons as well as attend day camps that are affordable and close to home,” he said. “That’s why I’ve said that one of my priorities as mayor is to cut recreation fees by 5%.”
Hamilton said recreation centres are important community builders.
“They are places where people meet each other, engage and have fun. A healthy and active community saves money on healthcare and other services,” he said. “It also contributes to a more productive workforce that is a plus when competing for new businesses against other communities.”
Hamilton said the provincial government’s recent announcement of a tax credit for recreational activities reinforces his plan, adding, “the right combination of fee reduction and tax credits will have a meaningful impact for families.”
His plan would not affect taxes, he added.
“If we reduce the fees, we’ll increase the volume,” he said. “And we need to identify cost saving and make cost cuts in a cost effective manner.
“I know we can find a 5% savings across the board,” Hamilton said, adding they could come from more effective deployment of staff and different purchasing programs. “If you can’t find 5% in cost savings you’re in trouble. I worked with our staff in the last term. They are smart people who can rise to the challenge.”
He questioned whether recreation centre program fees would increase if there are zero tax increase for four years.
“Or, will the recreation centres have to cut back on programs? I’m calling on the other candidates to be clear about their plans,” he said.
Mayor Dave Aspden said the next mayor won’t be the only person on council making a decision such as the fee reduction proposed by Hamilton.
“You have to understand the implications of such a promise when you’re only one (voting) member of council,” he said.