No recreation fee hikes for Whitby in 2021

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A staff plan to increase fees for sports and recreation users in Whitby by three per cent died on the committee floor, with councillors voting instead to freeze all fees this year.

Whitby, like virtually every other municipality, lost a lot of money in the past year because Covid restrictions forced the cancellation of recreation programs. The revenue loss is estimated at $6.5 million and staff - tasked with the job of recouping some of that lost revenue - came up with the three percent plan, which would have resulted in $212,600 in extra dollars.

Mayor Don Mitchell was having none of that, however, saying he was “uncomfortable” with raising fees for arena rentals, swimming lessons, fitness class and the like, while the Town already has some of the highest fees in the region.

“It puts us in an awkward position,” he said at Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

Regional Councillor Chris Leahy agreed, noting that many people are struggling because of lockdown restrictions.
“The last thing we need to be doing is putting an increase in when some of these programs have not been operating for a year.”

The zero-increase motion will be on the agenda for the June 21 regular council meeting.

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