The cost of hosting a ball tournament or using a meeting room in the Lacombe Memorial Centre (LMC) just got a little cheaper.
Lacombe City council approved the reduction of rates at specific recreation facilities for 2015 and 2016 at their regular council meeting on June 29th.
Community Services Director Brenda Vaughan said usually all recreation users fees are reviewed once a year in June by the Lacombe and District Recreation, Parks and Culture Board. The fees are then brought to council for approval during budget deliberations.
“There were two initiatives that came up during that discussion that the Rec Board would like for council to consider for immediate implementation and not wait until the beginning of 2016,” she said.
The first rate decrease suggested, in order to increase the use of the LMC during slower times, was the reduced rates of the meeting rooms.
Vaughan said during the last fee review for the LMC, fees were increased dramatically, causing the loss of some community groups.
“We are looking for a way to compromise where we are charging fair and equitable fees but are also giving some consideration to local groups,” she said.
The second decrease brought forward was to provide an incentive to book Centennial Hall during the off-season.
“The idea here is for some days and off-season from November to April we would do a wedding promotion, where if you were to book Centennial Hall, you would receive complimentary use of the kitchen,” said Vaughan.
The third decrease, which brought much positive feedback from council was to offer the ball diamonds within the City for a dollar a day during the months of August and September. The Recreation Board wished to increase the use of the facilities.
“Our usage seems considerably lower than neighbouring communities so it is certainly worthwhile to pursue this idea,” said Vaughan.
On average, the regular rate for renting the diamonds for a weekend tournament varies from $600 to $1,840. With the new rate, the diamonds can be rented out for a total cost of $8.
“That’s a significant reduction,” noted Councillor Reuben Konnik.
Councillor Grant Harder, who sits on the Recreation Board, said maintaining the ball diamonds still has to occur whether or not they are in use.
“Why not fill it up so we maximize the use?” he stated. “That’s where the idea came from.”
Mayor Steve Christie acknowledged the facilities are very much a part of the community.
“I would rather see the grass trampled then have to cut the grass because it’s way too long and not being used,” he said. “Along with the ball diamonds, the LMC is a community building and it should be used in full everyday.”
Councillor Peter Bouwsema questioned whether offering the ball diamonds for such a discounted rate was going too far to encourage use.
“No matter what we come up with, we are still kind of giving it away,” he said. “It just seems wrong to make it that cheap.”
Councillor Wayne Armishaw noted the lower rates would help promote Lacombe on the tournament circuit this year.
“They come on the dollar a day and see the wonderful facilities we have and the great community, it might just be a benefit regardless of price,” he said.
Harder added that years ago the ball diamonds in Lacombe were full, often hosting tournaments.
“We lost whatever that advantage was,” he said. “We need to reclaim it. I think this is one way we can do that.”
The new rates for the LMC meeting rooms are limited to Monday through Thursday evenings and only apply to the meeting rooms, varying from $20 per hour to $30 per hour for a community group.
The dollar a day per diamond fee for the months of August and September is in effect in 2015 and 2016.