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Fees for recreation facilities, building permits, and more to increase in 2024

The cost of obtaining a local building permit, obtaining an annual membership at Fountain Park Pool, and much more, is set to be more expensive next year.
A $15 hike for annual Fountain Park Pool memberships for seniors and adults and a $50 increase for family memberships at Fountain Park will take effect next year. KEVIN MA/St. Albert Gazette

The cost of going to a St. Albert rec centre or getting a local building permit is set to increase next year.

During their Sept. 5 meeting, city council unanimously passed first reading on an update to the Master Rates Bylaw, which sets the prices for different permits, including building, demolition, development, plumbing, and electrical; and also covers the cost for getting business licenses and other such fees. 

The city plans to increase the costs associated with using and renting local recreation and arts facilities next year, however council doesn't have direct authority to determine those prices as they are set by city administration. 

Coun. Mike Killick said the increases were necessary to keep up with inflation and its effect on operating costs.

"I think they're small changes that are probably worthwhile ... to keep up with inflation," Killick said.

"Everything is going up these days, and labour costs have gone up, paper costs go up, all those small little costs, they add up over time."

User fees are a critical element of a municipality's revenue mix, read a report to council written by Stanley Chan, a divisional controller in the city's financial services department, and the fees represent a significant portion of the city's revenue stream.

While council isn't scheduled to complete second and third reading for the Master Rates Bylaw changes until next month, Chan's report explains that the fee increases are estimated to generate an additional $113,300 in operating revenue next year.

About $51,000 of that new revenue would stem specifically from the proposed increases to the various types of building permits, Chan wrote.

Among the proposed changes is a $7 hike to the currently $206 building permit application fee; a $7 increase for demolition permits; a $7 increase for an application for a new single family dwelling building permit; a $2 per unit increase to the residential fire services fee; and much more.

The complete list of proposed changes to the Master Rates Bylaw can be accessed through council's Sept. 5 meeting agenda on the city's website. 

The increases won't be implemented unless council passes second and third reading next month.

Recreation fees

For the increases planned for city recreation, arts, and other facilities next year, the city is estimating a revenue increase of $117,000, with $86,000 specifically due to increased recreation fees.

The already approved increases include a $15 hike for annual Fountain Park Pool memberships for seniors and adults; a $50 increase for family memberships at Fountain Park; and $1-$2 increases for daily rates at the pool depending on age category.

Also new to Fountain Park Pool next year will be an annual membership program for children ($225) and youth ($325). Currently there is no annual membership for either age group.

Daily rates at Grosvenor Pool will also be higher next summer, with $0.50-$1.50 hikes planned depending on age category.

Memberships at Servus Place are also being increased, however the increases won't take effect until September of next year.

The annual cost for a child's (ages 2-12) membership is set to increase by $10; youth (ages 13-17) and post-secondary student memberships will increase by $15; adult memberships will increase by $25; senior's memberships will increase by $30; and a family membership that covers two parents, one child, and one youth, is set to increase by $140.

Monthly memberships will be increased by $1-$3 depending on age category except for family memberships, which are seeing a $14 hike.

Coun. Ken MacKay said the increased fees associated with using recreation facilities will help with cost recovery efforts, although total cost recovery likely isn't possible.

"I think those (increases) just reflect the ongoing impacts of what it costs us to deliver those services," MacKay said. 

"I believe that administration keeps them fair, but there has to be cost recovery.

Cemetery and arts facility fees

Despite 2022 being a record revenue year at the municipal cemetery, the cost of various burial plots will also be more expensive come January.

The cost of a standard adult burial plot is set to jump by $50; a child-sized burial plot will increase by $20; an adult ash plot will increase by $25; and a child-sized ash plot will increase by $10.

As well, renting the Arden Theatre for a commercial performance will be $75 more expensive for local acts and $100 more expensive for touring acts starting next September.

Local potters, painters, and quilters will also need to pay more to use the St. Albert Visual Arts Studio next year as space fees for each medium are set to increase by at least $100."

Coun. Shelley Biermanski said she didn't think the changes proposed to the Master Rates Bylaw were too substantial.

"I didn't think there was any dramatic changes on anything," she said. "A little bit here, a little bit there, and most of them aren't fees that would affect citizens on a day-to-day (basis), it's more for development."

"Servus Place went up a wee bit but Servus Place loses a lot of money and it's still low compared to other memberships everywhere else, so I thought they were  respectable changes."

Chan's report says that the nearly $231,000 in additional revenue the city expects to generate from increased fees under the Master Rates Bylaw and for city recreation, arts, and cemetery fees will go towards the operational costs of city facilities and programming, "while continuing to support the city's user-pay philosophy."

Jack Farrell

About the Author: Jack Farrell

Jack Farrell joined the St. Albert Gazette in May, 2022.
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