Township to offer free use of arena, community centres for service clubs, minor sports, seniors events

MAPLETON – Use of the PMD Arena and Maryborough Community Centre for events will be free for not-for-profit groups, minor sport teams and seniors’ shuffleboard as of Jan. 1.

The groups exempt from fees will save a combined total of about $14,513, based on fees collected in 2019.

Council directed staff to make the change to the fees and charges bylaw on Nov. 26. In 2019 service clubs and minor sports teams paid $7,813 in rental fees while the seniors shuffleboard program paid $6,700.

The decision to waive fees for these groups stemmed from public outcry.

“We thought it was a good idea to create a report based on the feedback from the original fees and charges report that said we should recover some of our cost,” said CAO Manny Baron.

“Clearly there was some letters sent to council with concerns. So it caused public works and ourselves to take a deeper dive into what the actual impact is for non-profit groups.”

The report looked at how many times these groups rented the facilities and how much they paid each year.

Service clubs include the Alma Optimist Club, Moorefield Optimist Club, Drayton Kinsmen and  Drayton Kinettes, Drayton Rotary, 100 Women Who Care, Mapleton Historical Society and the township’s two firefighters associations.

Minor sports organizations include Drayton Minor Hockey, Drayton Moorefield Minor Ball, Moorefield Athletic Association and Drayton District Figure Skating.

“Are we comfortable with the organizations that are on here?” Mayor Gregg Davidson asked council.

Councillor Marlene Ottens requested the Community Craft Show be added to the list.

“It’s run completely by volunteers and all the profits are donated back to local sports organizations. So the whole event is done for the betterment of the community … this is their only thing they do,” she said.

Davidson also suggested including the Mapleton Chamber of Commerce, which used the community centre in 2018 to host an all candidates meeting.

“So that’s up in the air whether council wants to include that or not. If it’s something for the betterment of the community or our business community … that’s up to council to decide,” said Davidson.

Councillor Paul Douglas asked if the Drayton Kinsmen were already paying a reduced rate for the use of the facilities.

Public works director Sam Mattina confirmed that a resolution from council was passed to discount the Drayton Farm Show.

“I just don’t have  the particular details right now,” he said.

Councillors Dennis Craven, Michael Martin and Marlene Ottens supported waiving the fees for the organizations.

“I’d certainly support a discount for service clubs and the minor sports organizations and seniors,” said Martin. “As far as the rest of the communities that pop up for certain events, maybe less … as long as they are a registered group locally that puts their own time and energy into this type of thing as well. Like, I can see my way through that … What that percentage looks like, I don’t know.”

Ottens asked how the township would define which groups are eligible.

Davidson clarified it would be organizations that rented facilities most often over the years, as highlighted by township staff in their report.

“This is not all the rentals that are taking place in our township,” said Davidson.

“These are just pulled out as users that use it most frequently and we have a four-year look to make sure that we have a good understanding of who uses it more often, and what that impact would be to the community if we change the rates, not only for reducing the amount of income we bring into the township, but also what these groups can actually give back to the community.

“I’m leaning towards 100 per cent for the seniors group just because that money can be used elsewhere and we certainly want to make sure that our seniors are active.”

Council agreed it could decide whether or not to add other organizations to the list as requests come forward in the future.

Douglas proposed a 100% fee reduction for service clubs and sports organizations for the first year followed by a 75% reduction afterwards.

Martin and Davidson made other suggestions about how to prevent monopolization of the facilities.

“Maybe the CAO can monitor it that if there’s one organization that books the hall for every Thursday, you know, maybe there needs to be some sort of monitoring log, even if the facility is used more because it’s now free,” said Martin.

Conversely Davidson suggested making rentals free for these groups up to a certain amount of dollars, without council going into further detail.

Martin also requested Reach Forth Hockey be added to the list. Davidson supported the addition.

Council voted to approve waiving the rental fees for the organizations outlined; Douglas was opposed.