The board of Western Sports and Entertainment Inc. has met and approved the 2013-14 budget for the Pepsi Centre.
"This process was not undertaken lightly, and we are hopeful that stakeholders will see a concerted effort on behalf of the board to control costs as much as possible," Allan Kendall, board chair, said in a prepared release sent from Grenfell Campus-Memorial University.
Effective Sept. 1, the new budget includes a 10 per cent increase in rental rates for all spaces, including meeting spaces and ice time, with the exception of advertising space and rates for the newly refurbished Pepsi Studio. Rates for these areas will not increase for this fiscal year.
The introduction of a fee structure for the walking track has been approved in principle, but has not been finalized.
"In looking at other facilities we have found that a small fee to use the walking track is the norm," Kendall said. "However, there is a strong resolve among board members to make the track as accessible as possible to key groups, particularly for seniors, new mothers, individuals undergoing medical rehabilitation and so on.
"We want to promote health and wellness and contribute to promoting an active lifestyle while meeting the many increasing demands on the facility."
The fee increases will aid the organization in meeting continual cost increases and in the implementation of plans to address maintenance and custodial issues at the centre, including a garbage and recycling program and "butt out" stations.
"We recognize how averse the community is to an increase in rates, but it is absolutely necessary if the Pepsi Centre is to continue to serve the region in an efficient and healthy manner," Kendall added.
During the coming year the board will search for other ways to best utilize the facility spaces and increase revenue streams so that further rate increases for existing programs and uses can be controlled, Kendall said.
"We will be looking to identify any cost savings as we move through the year," he said. "However, we do not want to make any moves that will merely defer maintenance funds. It would make little sense to reduce a preventative maintenance expense now only to incur a larger recovery expense in a number of years down the road."
Mr. Kendall added that he hopes the 10 per cent increase – as opposed to the 15 per cent that was initially discussed – will be a little more palatable to the patrons of the centre.
The board also plans to implement a new feedback line this fall, so patrons can register any concerns or questions they may have about the facility.
Additionally the board would like to continue constructive dialogue with the user groups so it can collectively attain the best usage for this great community facility.