HST causes Sports groups to seek fee freeze

The provincial gov­ernment has backed off the Harmonized Sales Tax for cof­fee and doughnuts – and minor Sports groups are hoping the same thing occurs in Sports.

Centre Wellington council heard strategic plan re­ports at a special  meeting on Mon­day and Parks and Rec­reation Director Andy Goldie explain­ed minor Sports groups are seeking no municipal in­crease in fees because they will be hit with the HST next July.

“There may be some chan­ges for youth groups,” Goldie said of provincial backpedaling.

But, he warned, “We need some increase” in fees for user groups. That could hit families hard.

It costs about $400 to register a child for minor hockey in the local league, and over $700 for rep teams.

The tax is set to be levied at 13% for services.

Goldie said he is waiting for more provincial announce­ments, and has received “three strong letters” about the tax change from groups like the Scottish Festival and Highland Games, the Elora Festival and The Fergus Truck Show.

Mark Bradey said in the finance department, “We just don’t know at this time” if the HST will hit minor Sports groups.

The announce­ment could take until the end of March.

Mayor Joanne Ross-Zuj said the HST on some groups would be “a huge impact.”

In other strategic plan is­sues, Goldie presented accomplishments for 2009:

– a parks master plan ap­proved for Victoria Park in Elora and for four other parts in Fergus;

– various capital projects, in­cluding new roofs at the Sports­plex weight room, hall and arena change rooms; new roofs, HVAC and stone work at Fergus Grand Theatre; new irrigated soc­cer fields at Elora Ridge that will be ready for use in 2011 after giving the turf a year to grow; a new swing set and concrete floor in the shelter at Maple Park in Belwood; and an exterior wall reconstruction at the Elora community centre;

– obtained a $2.4-million grant for the Fergus Sportsplex for upgrades to pad A change rooms, arena floor, and mec­hanical systems;

– a Trillium grant worth $42,000 through partnerships with local theatre organi­za­tions;

– completion of the High­land Rugby clubhouse in Victoria Park in Fergus; and

– continued the In Motion strategy for residents’ fitness with a partnership with the Elora Cataract Trail and a fall family walk, plus engaging schools in Centre Wellington.

Goldie said challenges to accomplishing strategic plan goals include a delay until spring of play equipment at Hoffer Park in Elora because of safety concerns over the surface.

In other News, the first round grant application for Bissell Park was not approved, and he said the Fergus Truck Show has land lease issues again this year.

The department is applying for a grant for Bis­sell Park, and got cash for portable and mobile bleachers.