No decision on rental fees yet
By Chad Ingram
Algonquin Highlands continues to struggle to create an updated rental fees framework for its halls.
Parks, rec and trails director Dave Drobitch had brought a report before councillors at their Oct. 1 meeting.
Having completed a comparative analysis with similar-sized venues in other townships, Drobitch had recommendations for fees at the Stanhope Firefighters’ Community Hall, the Dorset Rec Centre and Oxtongue Lake Community Centre.
The changes achieved greater consistency between the venues and in many cases, meant a lowering of fees, for example, the dropping of the daily max rate for a small, private or non-profit function at the Dorset Rec Centre from $250 to $100 and for a commercial function with the provision of alcohol from $300 to $225.
At the October meeting, councillors noted there were some groups, such a seniors’ card groups, who used the halls on a weekly or biweekly basis and it was suggested a framework containing an annual fee – almost like a membership – be developed.
One group, a number of seniors who for years played cards at Club 35 at Halls Lake, is moving to the hall at Stanhope, after council decided to close Club 35 at the end of October.
Rental income for the little-used and aging facility was not nearly keeping up with its operating costs.
That group had traditionally given the township a donation in the amount of about $1,200 a year for use of the space.
At council’s Nov. 5 meeting, returned with a formula for regular users of the halls, with a discount based on the amount of usage, up to a total discount of 75 per cent.
The formula was too complicated, councillors seemed to agree, and would not result in enough cost-recovery for the township.
“We’re going the wrong direction, here,” said Reeve Carol Moffatt. “We’re trying to do the right thing, but this is the wrong way.”
Deputy-reeve Liz Danielsen agreed, saying the formula was convoluted and the potential discounts too large.
“I think it’s a good way to show how complicated it really is,” said chief administrative officer Angie Bird.
Council suggested instead a discount be given to groups who use halls a minimum number of times per year.
There are three groups, including the Club 35 seniors’ card group, who have been allowed special circumstances over the years and its was decided these groups would received a phased-in increase of their fees over a number of years.
The matter was referred back to staff and a revised copy of the rental fee structure will come back to council.
Drobitch, who has taken a job with another municipality, had his final day of work with Algonquin Highlands last week.
It is anticipated a new fee structure will be in place early in 2016.