St. Catharines looks to hike fees for golfing, swimming, skating, to name a few

 

In what has become an annual tradition for most municipalities, St. Catharines will almost certainly be hiking their user fees at their June 14 Council meeting.

However, the across-the-board price hikes won’t hurt the pocket-book too much as it’s only increasing 1.5 per cent. At the moment, St. Catharines has just over 1,100 public activities that involve user fees but that number is getting bumped a little as they will add 13 new fees.

The user fee activities best known by the public in St. Catharines are swimming lessons, Garden City Golf Course green fees, public skating, dog licences, park and facility rentals, building and demolition permits and road closures for public events.

Among the new user fees being added for 2021-22 are: short-term rental licences, new site plan process fees, a new fee for webinars for the St. Catharines Enterprise Centre and the introduction of a fee for staff attendance at a wedding rehearsals.

At a May City’s Budget Standing Committee, members approved the recommended rates and fee hikes. It is seen as almost a certainty that St. Catharines Council will rubber-stamp the hikes as they are keeping the increase adjusted for inflation. The reason the fees rise yearly is to offset changes in updated legislation, recover administration costs and simply to standardize pricing.

Director of Financial Management Services Kristine Douglas explained the increases to the committee meeting. Noting the user fees only affect actual service users and not taxpayers-at-large, she said, “City staff review rates and fees every year and adjust them based on the City’s cost to deliver services, local market conditions, user demand and based on comparator municipal information. It’s a responsible approach to updating rates and fees and to sustain and manage costs of programs and services.”

“The proposed rates and fees allow the City to balance costs without burdening the taxpayer by having those that use a service pay for it.”

The public is welcome to speak to Council on the issue but only virtually. To that end, they must complete the City’s electronic delegation form by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, June 13. However, resident are welcome to email the city about the change or simply drop a written letter into the city’s mail slot at City Hall.

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