Shelburne parks and fields just became temporarily more accessible to local sports teams and other organizations that require them.
On June 28, 2021, Shelburne Council accepted a report from staff about requests being received asking for the waiving of parks and field user fees. The organizations making the applications were Towne Fitness for classes held at Hyland Park, the Shelburne Rotary for events hosted at Fiddle Park, and the Shelburne Cricket Club for games at KTH Park. Shelburne council decided to waive parks and field user fees for all local groups for the remainder of the year. Budget impacts will be mitigated through Safe Restart Funding provided by the province. Requirements for scheduling and proper insurance are not being eliminated.
Town staff estimated the Shelburne parks and fields user fees for the three organizations petitioning for relief if payment were collected,
- $1,453.50 to $5,130.00 for Town Fitness, dependent on which price is applied from the 2021 fee by-law
- $628.80 to $2,829.60 for Shelburne Cricket, impacted by the length of games and how many occur
- $800 for the two two-day events held by Shelburne Rotary ($200/day)
According to Shelburne’s 2018 waiving of fees guideline, the maximum value per request is $500, which the three applications surpass. When the limit is exceeded, the ask for relief is supposed to be referred to the Municipal Grant Funding Program. Moreover, the staff report provides that support is not given to organizations that charge the public an admission or registration fee. Lastly, the document states that payments will not be waived to support regular program costs, such as field rentals for sports. At the June 28 meeting, Chief Administrative Officer Denyse Morrissey told how the council provided an exemption last year to all locally based sports organizations for Shelburne parks and fields due to COVID-19. She also shared how other municipalities, such as Orangeville, have instituted a fee reduction across the board.
The staff report shows that the budgeted revenue for park rental fees was $8,000, with $150 being collected to date.
Morrissey noted that even though revenues are ‘almost non-existent to date,’ if organizations cannot proceed with their seasons, the town will still realize next to no income.
Councillor Lindsay Wegener highlighted how council would need to repeat this process if other organizations required support. She asked if they could decide to waive fees for all user groups that night.
CAO Morrissey confirmed that it was possible and that there may be benefits to Wegener’s suggestion.
“If council directed us, similar to the recommendation we made last year, to waive as a component of a COVID-19 strategy, there may be some organizations that have cancelled their season that may consider resurrecting part of it if that was not a financial barrier for them,” delineated Morrissey.
Mayor Wade Mills asked Shelburne’s Treasurer, Carrie Holmes, if COVID-relief funding given to the town by the province could be used to support the waiving of fees instead of drawing from the Municipal Grant Funding Program.
Holmes explained how there was about $12,000 left in the fund that has not been allocated after accounting for reduced 2020 revenues.
“Between the budget itself and some of the inequities that are still going on due to COVID, and because of that remaining COVID funding, I think the budget can handle the waiving of fees for another season if council chooses to go that way,” remarked Holmes.
Councillor Walter Benotto asked if it was possible to reduce the fees by a certain amount rather than dropping them entirely.
“Everything we do is taxpayer-driven at the end of the day and I’m not sure I want to put that much taxpayer money into all of those sports and all of the things that happen,” pronounced Councillor Benotto, noting that it is not all townspeople using the programs being subsidized.
Mayor Mills laid out the options council had. The first was to consider the three requests in isolation and handle further applications if they come. The second and third being to reduce or eliminate fees across the board for all local users of Shelburne parks and fields.
“I appreciate Councillor Benotto’s comments with regards to the taxpayers, and in regular times I would not necessarily recommend this. But we are in COVID times right now and I think a lot of people are struggling,” said Councillor Wegener. “If we can help them, we should help them.”
Councillor Wegener moved the motion to eliminate Shelburne parks and fields user fees for the 2021 season, with Councillor Shane Hall seconding. To reiterate, the relief applies to local groups only and insurance is still required. Users also still need to schedule and book the parks and fields. Morrissey also mentioned that primarily business-driven events might not be included in the support program.
On a related note, Mono staff recently reminded the public that permits are required for organizations and businesses to use the town’s parks and fields after it was found businesses had been operating on them without authorization.
References – Shelburne Parks and Fields Fees Waived For 2021
- June 28, 2021 Town of Shelburne Council Meeting Part Two – Town of Shelburne YouTube Channel
- June 28, 2021 Agenda – Town of Shelburne Council Meeting – Town of Shelburne
- Report CAO 2021-07 Fee Waiver Requests – Town of Shelburne
- 2021 User Fees By-law – Town of Shelburne
- Businesses Operating in Mono Parks Without Permits
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