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Which council candidates favour a freeze on sports rental fees?

Sport North Bay asks potential city councillors if the financial pressures on families due to inflation is reason enough to support a two-year moratorium on increasing sports rental fees
File photo of the Steve Omischl Sports Complex in North Bay

Sport North Bay asked all 29 council candidates in the upcoming municipal election a series of questions pertinent to the organization and the community at large.

This part of the survey asks "Would you support council considering freezing rental fees for the next two years due to the inflation issues families are currently facing?"

BayToday's extensive election reporting can be found here.

Check out our council poll here.

Check out our mayor's poll here.

Below are the responses from all of the candidates who participated, in alphabetical order. Some answers have been edited for clarity.

Mac Bain

I would support it for kids under 18, but only for those whose parents own property (of any type, not just residential) in North Bay. I don't think the property taxpayer should further subsidize programs and fields for kids outside the City.

Francine Boulay

100% agree!  

Richard Cadotte

If it is to the benefit of the low income, yes, but more info needed.

Ralph Celentano

I would need to review the current ice rental or field rental fees in order to have meaningful open discussions with fellow councillors during the upcoming budget process.

We need to address the current level of service and how any financial change would impact said service delivery. Inflation will impact the operational and supply chain costs at the city level as well. These external financial pressures will have an impact on youth funded activities and the agencies that support active sport registration fees or equipment needs (ie. KidSport North Bay).

Sheldon Forgette

As a young man with children, I understand the pressures families are facing and would support a rate freeze for two years.

Gary Gardiner

Families are currently facing uncertain and troubling times. Rapid inflation is driving the cost of basic living beyond what is considered affordable. Food, clothes, household expenses (utilities, insurance, repairs and maintenance), and transportation costs are making life challenging. The larger the family, the greater the strain.

I pledge to support a freeze on user fees for the next two years. On the City side, the municipality receives 40% of the accommodation tax. A portion of this revenue could be targeted to cover the shortfall created by freezing the user rates. Currently there is a city reserve fund as a result of previous years of untouched tax accommodation revenue.

My soapbox issue: Every time I drive by the Omischl sports field I am disappointed at the lack of use. Some weekend days it is completely empty. It is interesting that a group of friends cannot go there and play a game of pick-up soccer or Frisbee. I am told that only paying teams are allowed on the field. So what’s the point of having an empty sports field? And is the cost of field rental too high? This needs to change.

Peter Gregory

Increasing costs are being felt by all, and these need to be covered. I believe a minimal increase keeping up to the cost of living is necessary.

Maggie Horsfield

  • There are other ways to generate revenue with facility rentals in our community. 
  • The burden of the costs should not fall solely on the families and leagues. 
  • During the hockey offseason more needs to be done to generate revenue, host events and bring in people to use the facilities. 
  • I would support freezing rental fees but also encourage City Staff to solicit other opportunities to use these spaces to bring in revenue that would offset the costs.  

Sara Inch

I am in favour of a freeze on rental fees. 

Scott Kile

Every effort will be made to reduce user fees for fields and arenas. This is something I will gladly look into. Your asks are reasonable but not sure if they are sustainable due to the current financial situation the tax payers of the City of North Bay are burdened with at this time.

My hope is to get spending and infrastructure under control to ensure we are able to build a twin pad arena and much more.

Mark King

I could support a freeze on rental fees if we as a council are able to address over spending and commit to a tax freeze across all departments. This may happen as there seems to be some that are prepared to look at an all department third party review of all city departments.

Jamie Lowery

I think Council has to look at all of its rates and fees. There must be a better way to help make sport more affordable and to incent minor sports groups and make youth a priority as well as create safe spaces for our seniors to recreate. My platform calls for a seniors recreation centre. The design and financing work is currently underway.  The site is located centrally on the Castle Arms property.

There should also be more attention paid to resident requirements.  For example, if more than 80% of your team lives in North Bay, the team should receive a discounted rate on rentals. Residency matters.

Justine Mallah

Yes! Public access to sports and recreation is critical for a well-functioning community. 

Dave Mendicino

The 2023-24 City Budgets will have many internal and external pressures on it due to Inflation. I would support Council considering this request and having a fulsome discussion on it during the Budget process.

Eric Morgan

I can see coming for the new council a request to increase the fees on all facilities run by the city. In a time when everything in our life is going up, I will not be in support of anything that will increase the cost of living to an already strapped tax payer.  So yes, I would support the freezing of user fees on all facilities.

Deric Reichstein

The city must protect itself and be financially responsible when setting rates for use of facilities. The tax-payers have already absorbed costs associated with building upgrades of several facilities in the area, I think it's fair to try and ensure operationally there is not a growing deficit taken on by the city if the cause would be freezing/holding of rental rates. My stance is to encourage sport, but not to subsidize it as it is an interest/activity which not all taxpayers may participate in.

Derek Shogren

I proposed this when I was on council but didn’t get much support and would be willing to bring it forward again.

Darryl Skinner

Absolutely,  I believe that the City should freeze all rental fees.   

This goes along with property tax being frozen for at least a year and reviewed each year.Tax payers need a break. These next four years are going to be difficult. Inflation, cost of living, cost of fuel will all have an effect on the use of community facilities.  We cannot price ourselves out of the market. We want people to visit North Bay.

Randall Tilander

I would consider freezing rental fees subject to council debate. 

Ed Valenti

Being as the Pandemic has been very difficult for many families, individuals, and businesses, I would support a review. One that would include an analysis of
how other municipalities are managing the post-Covid period.

Bill Vrebosch

I don’t think freezing rates is the answer at this time. I’m sure many are aware that our recreational rates are set at 50% of the actual costs. This means that the general public who do not use the facilities are also subsidizing these costs. How do you separate the participants who are not taxpayers? Why is Barrie complaining we are getting a lot of tournaments, etc? Because their rental rates are double ours. Under the 50% formula, we don’t make a cent. I have been told by KidSport and LIPI representatives that any child who wants to take part in any recreational activity will not be held back due to financial problems.

Tanya Vrebosch

No. I know that it's not what you want to hear, however, we are already subsidizing the rental fees.  Freezing the rental fees would mean we are subsidizing residents from outside of North Bay even further. LIPI and KidSport are there to help families that can't afford for their kids to participate. We support LIPI through the DNSSAB with a fund that comes from municipalities. KidSport has an agreement with the City in regards to their office space. I'm always open to
hearing creative solutions or hearing if something isn't working and people are impacted.