City rental fee hike considered 'what the market will bear'

'What the market will bear'

The City of Vernon says "consideration of the local economy and what the market will bear" was given when deciding to raise recreation service and facility rental rates.

Council's recent decision to approve a consultant's report recommending a 5% increase for 2024 was roundly panned by community groups that rent city venues for large events.

Council is expected to give that motion second reading on Monday.

A report to council states "consideration of the local economy and what the market will bear while providing for reasonably affordable access" was factored into decisions regarding fees and charges.

ln 2018, consultations for the Greater Vernon Recreation Master Plan indicated "68% of respondents were in favour of maintaining the current level of user fees, 22% were in favour of an increase, and only 10% recommended decreasing fees," the report continues.

"Additionally, when asked what barriers keep them from participating, only 19% of people indicated the cost of admission and equipment, relatively low compared to other barriers that were identified."

That appears to refer to user fees for such things as swimming and gym use, not rentals for large public events, such as concerts, craft fairs, and sporting events.

The Vernon Winter Carnival Society, for example, said it lost $14,000 on its Reklaws concert in February.

The council report states Kal Tire Place was constructed "to provide needed ice time and to be one of the premier facilities in the Greater Vernon area. One of the purposes of the facility is to attract events that otherwise would not be available for the citizens of the community to enjoy (special events).

"To provide a facility to host these types of events is costly, and the people who attend these events, or sponsor these events, should be prepared to pay an appropriate fee to use/attend the facility.

"One of the challenges is to find that balance in fees that is most beneficial to the owner, yet still affordable enough to attract events and users."

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce said the rate decision "abandoned" community organizations hoping to put on events.

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