Just say no
Proposal to have user fees increased kiboshed by council

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 22/99) - A recommendation to increase user fees for city facilities got a cool reception from council Monday.

The recommendation was one of many contained in a recently completed study analyzing the city's recreational needs and wants.

"Recent experiences in Yellowknife and trends across North America show that the general public is less willing to fund services that they regard as benefitting only a small portion of the public," asserted the report.

"If the general public will not pay then users will have to."

Noting the median income in Yellowknife is much higher than most other municipalities, the report recommended that the replacement cost of buildings, such as the pool or arenas, be built into user fees.

It also recommended "strengthening" the current policy regarding leisure access for those with low incomes.

Mayor Dave Lovell pointed out that the recommendation overlooks a principle fundamental to the pricing of anything.

Lovell said raising user fees does not necessarily result in increased revenues. Price hikes can reduce revenue by driving away users who can't afford the fees.

"I don't want to be in a position where we're cutting the bottom end off, making (facilities and services) unaffordable for some people and groups."

There was general agreement with the mayor's analysis.

"This is one thing that's going to take a lot more work on the part of administration and council," said councillor Robert Slaven.

Council accepted the recommendation as an information item, meaning they neither rejected nor accepted it.