User groups disappointed with Pepsi Centre rate increase

Diane
Diane Crocker
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The City of Corner Brook will re-assume control of the Pepsi Centre on Sept. 1. The city recently informed user groups of a two per cent increase in fees for this year.

Some user groups at the Pepsi Centre were disappointed to find out last week that fees at the centre will be increasing.

The City of Corner Brook met with user groups last Thursday prior to announcing it would re-assume control of the centre as of Sept. 1. It was during that meeting that the groups were informed there would be a two per cent increase in fees this year, and that would most likely be the same for the next five years.

“It is already difficult to run these programs,” said Terri Donahue, the new president of the Silver Blades Skating Club.

“As non-profit organizations ... I feel we’re already charging quite a bit for these programs.”

She’s worried that as the fees increase, the club will have to charge its participants more and that will make the programs less accessible.

Donahue said the bottom line is you don’t want to lose the children.

If there has to be an increase, she thinks it’s better to implement it gradually rather than the whole 10 per cent up front, which is what happened last year.

Donahue is hopeful that the increase won’t affect the club too much this year, as the small increase is somewhat easier to swallow for the club and for parents. But it will mean some “retweaking” of the club’s budget.

After going through last year’s 10 per cent increase in fees, Cara-Leigh Wyllie was also concerned about the rates at the centre. Wyllie, president of the Corner Brook Minor Hockey Association, wasn’t happy to hear of the increase.

“We’re not thrilled that there’s any user increase, no user group is, but at least now we can do some long-term planning and know what we need to look at for the next five years,” she said. “We’ve been playing guessing games every summer.”

Wyllie said it’s still too early to say what the increase will mean to players this year as the association hasn’t completed its budget for the coming season.

While the rate increase is a negative, both Donahue and Wyllie welcomed the city taking control of the centre because of things like changes to security, having cleaners on staff and $100,000 in cosmetic upgrades.

Mayor Charles Pender said the city is still working on putting together a five-year plan for the building that would help to stabilize the subsidy and rates.

Part of that plan is to phase in any rate increases, Pender said, to make it easier for clubs to manage their finances.

The mayor said the current management of the centre will remain in place for the time being and meetings between the user groups and management will continue.

He also said the city is still working on the building’s new name.

The city had sought input from the public and has narrowed the name choice down to a couple possibilities. About a week ago, however, an outside submission on naming rights for the centre was received that the city is now reviewing.

Pender wouldn’t say who the submission was from or if it was local.

Whether the city goes with the submission or one of the publicly suggested names is “a question of balance,” said Pender: Does the city want to go with history or legacy in naming the building, and are there other ways of doing that by naming the rinks and rooms?

Pender said revenue from naming rights helps keep the subsidy and rates down.

Organizations: Pepsi Centre, Silver Blades Skating Club, Corner Brook Minor Hockey Association

Geographic location: Corner Brook

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Recent comments

  • Upset
    August 20, 2014 - 17:05

    My kids played Hockey and Silver Blades...my husband played in rec league...we along with many other parents payed alot of money to use this facility...but NO MORE how can a middle class family afford to have there kids in any extra curricular activities when the price just keeps going up & up....We have nothing here for our children that doesn't cost a small fortune....maybe I have to quit my job and avail of social services at least then I know there going to a structured environment that the gov't will pay for while I sit home doing nothing...OMG and then people wonder why kids are getting into the trouble they do today!

  • Jack
    August 20, 2014 - 09:07

    After Corner Brook announced they will take over the Pepsi Centre, we thought that Corner Brook City Council and Pepsi Centre management would lower or stabilize rates. Turns out that not only did they lie to us in imposing a 2% rate increase, but rates will go up 2% every year for the next five years. In short, Corner Brook City Council lied to us. We thought that having Corner Brook directly taking over the Pepsi Centre as opposed to using a third party to manage it, and having a new major tenant like the Corner Brook Royals would result in lower rates? Maybe I was wrong. This is not the first time Mayor Pender and current Corner Brook City Council double crossed Corner Brookers. He did that with the Poll Tax as he promised to get rid of it, but it still exist, which will potentially embarrass Corner Brook on the eve of the 2016 Special Olympics Canada Winter Games due to a fact that this tax targets many disabled persons. He promised to restore Corner Brook Transit's bus service to include weekend and evening runs, but that still no longer exists. And now, he promised that taking over Pepsi Centre will result in stable rates, but they are still going up. Keep deceiving Corner Brookers, and Pender will be voted out again in 2017 Civic Elections as punishment for not learning from his mistakes that got him voted out in 2009.

    • two cents
      August 20, 2014 - 13:24

      Jack, you keep say "we thought". So what happened is different from what you "thought" would happen, that does not mean Mayor and Council lie to you. IF Mayor and Council said there would be no increase then that would be a lie. But they did not say that. You "thought" something, that mean YOU made an assumption and YOU were wrong. Just as YOU were wrong in saying they lied to you and YOU now owe them an apology. What the hell is wrong with Corner Brook. Everyone wants everything for nothing. 2% is less than the rate of inflation. Stop your whining.

    • Jack
      August 20, 2014 - 15:13

      Two cents, Pepsi Centre users don't want anymore rate increases due to a fact that they endured a major increase last year, and their members can't absorb anymore increases at this time. In addition, since Corner Brook will directly manage the Pepsi Centre as opposed to using an intermediary like Memorial University owned Western Sports and Entertainment, plus they got a new major tenant like the Corner Brook Royals, this move should result in greater revenue and even greater cost savings. However, instead of Corner Brook City Council passing the savings on to Pepsi Centre users, they make a wrong choice in raising user fees even after last year's great gouge. With rental fees currently much higher than other Western Newfoundland communities, Corner Brook should be lower ice rental rates, not jack them up. In the end of the day, Corner Brook City Council will have to accept the consequences of raising rates as opposed to benefiting from directly taking over Pepsi Centre management and pass these savings on accordingly. These consequences could include less children getting involved in sports, sport teams could relocate elsewhere, just to name a few.

    • Two cents
      August 20, 2014 - 17:32

      Jack, just how in your mind does the City taking over operations save them money? Western Sports board did not get paid and one would assume Memorial put some services into running the place that the City will now have to pay for. PS: when are you going to apologize for accusing them of lying?

  • Grumpy Old man
    August 20, 2014 - 08:06

    Another rate increase. One would expect that a 'major tenant' like the Royals would result in stable fees or even a reduction. Nope, not in Corner Brook, instead rates have to go up. This must be the "positive turn" or "more opportunities" that the editor of this paper wrote about yesterday. Put the new name up for a vote - something accurate like 'white elephant' or 'sink hole' should do it.