Squamish youth shouldn’t be taxed for taking part in sports, says the president of the Squamish Youth Soccer Association (SYSA).
With District of Squamish 2014 budget discussions underway, field and ice arena fees are on the table. Municipal officials estimate that annual expenses for local fields sit at $409,578 and the arena comes in at $192,863. But the ice pulls in $148,218 in rental fees, while the fields generate $12,340.
Council is examining aligning the two. User fees are tentatively scheduled to be debated at Committee of the Whole on Feb. 18.
Traditionally soccer is one of the most affordable sports in town, said Tim Sjogren, the SYSA president. At approximately $20 per child, the price allows most families to get involved, but he fears that will change if officials bump up field fees.
“Do we really want to attack youth sports?” Sjogren questioned.
If the municipality is trying to generate revenue it should examine costs, he said. The $400,000 plus maintenance bill sounds like a high figure for the work required, Sjogren said.
“[The process] doesn’t seem to be very transparent,” Sjogren said.
A user fee hike this year will open up the door for more down the road, he warned. Sjogren supports some form of payment system to cover the eventual replacement of the turf field, but wants assurances that the money won’t go toward general revenue.
“We’ve been told that they don’t make any money off the Squamish Valley Music Festival [in field rentals], but they want to make money off youth sports,” Sjogren added.
Ice users wouldn’t have a problem paying more for an improved arena, Squamish Minor Hockey president Derek Cranfield said, noting everyone is aware that fees are on the horizon.
“We are anticipating an increase for a new facility,” he said.
However, Cranfield said he wouldn’t be pleased with fee hikes for the current facility. The arena’s flaws have long been documented, including inadequate changing rooms.
“Where we are at right now is very reasonable for the facility we get,” Cranfield said.
The hockey association’s members have discussed the topic in the past and plan to keep a close eye on district conversations. Ultimately, whatever council decides will fall on the backs of youth, Cranfield said.
“It’s going to be the moms and dads paying,” he said.