City looking at 21 per cent hike this year
People who use city-run recreational programs — from swimming lessons to ice time to mom-and-tot sessions — face an average 21 per cent jump in fees this year and 10 per cent for the following six years under a plan proposed by Toronto’s recreation department.
In the face of calls for belt-tightening by opposition councillors and Toronto’s ongoing budget difficulties, the proposal — dubbed “revolutionary” by general manager Brenda Librecz — should see wide support.
The plan envisions the city increasing its “cost recovery” (also known as “user pay”) percentage for recreational programs from 30 per cent to 50 per cent by 2014 (the rest is covered mostly by property taxes). That ratio would bring Toronto more in line with municipalities in the 905 region, such as Mississauga and Burlington, which are now in the 55 to 66 per cent range.
But the proposal also calls for reinvesting some of that extra money — $6.3 million by 2011 — in an ongoing program called the Welcome Policy, which gives low-income people access to the same recreational opportunities for free.