Over the course of the next five years, the Town of Halton Hills Recreation and Parks Strategic Action Plan will ensure that residents have access to active and healthy lifestyle choices, accessible and inclusive programs and facilities, support for community volunteers and a connection to nature. We need to hear your voice as we create this important plan.
Subsidies are provided on financial need regardless of age; this determination was based on the policies contained within Town's Affordability Policy Framework. It should be noted that Halton Hills is above the provincial average for income, and also performs well under level of employment.
There are a number of options available for residents requiring financial support such as:
Staff will continue to direct residents who need support to the services available through the Affordability Policy which offers 50% discount for residents on GIS, referrals to Jump Start program, Municipal Assistance and/or Region of Halton subsidy programs;
Free to Explore passes at the libraries and Hillsview Active Living Centres provide complimentary access for short term use for recreational swims and skates;
Hillsview Active Living Centre members now get access to one free 50+ swim and skate per week as part of their membership, as well as 25% discount on all Active Living Programs at the Centre;
The new range of passes and memberships provides a bulk discount for those wishing to access programs more regularly, and improved costs for regular program use.
What municipal comparators were used?
The study looked at other municipalities in Halton Region, municipalities of the same size or operation (E.g. Newmarket, Aurora) and other area municipalities that Halton Hills residents may access for similar services (E.g. Milton, Brampton, Guelph). Wherever possible, other comparators were based on locations where user groups travel to or use as part of their recreation programs or regular season play.
How can only 24% of costs be recovered for user fees?
When all the costs are factored into the delivery model, indirect costs like human resources and information technology add to the cost. A primary difference in past rate reviews is the provision for capital costs, and given the high cost of building and operating buildings such as arenas and pools, the cost allocation increases. The 24% recovery is a true indication of the actual user fee recovery, and the level of support that comes from taxpayers to offset those fees.
What are the main benefits or outcomes of the study?
All rates for programs and services are now included in the rate schedule. By using the community benefit lens, rates are established at the low, mid or high end of the market comparators depending on the extent of personal or community-wide benefit. A broader range of passes and memberships is available to the public so they can reduce costs by purchasing in bulk. Passes and memberships allow more flexibility to access a bigger range of programs, also at a bulk discount.
Will rates increase as a result of the study?
Some rates were adjusted higher to reflect the market comparators, but increases in excess of ten per cent will be phased in over two years. The major user groups impacted by the rates were consulted regarding the implementation. Some rates actually decreased as a result of the market review. It is anticipated that the market analysis will be done annually, and a more detailed review like the 2020 study would be done every four or five years.
Overall Project Goal
To develop a five-year plan that guides the Department in the delivery of the Framework for Recreation in Canada and addresses the key elements of active living, inclusion and access to recreation, connecting to nature, encouraging participation, and ensuring continued growth and sustainability.
Community Open House - September 24, 2019
A community open house and launch event was held on Tuesday, September 24, 2019 at the Gellert Community Centre. Participants joined either a formal discussion session or casual drop-in to identify issues facing the Town and potential strategies for consideration. Have a look at some of the material from this meeting:
Presentation to update Members of Council on the status of the Recreation and Parks Strategic Action Plan project timeline and community engagement process. Have a look at some of the material from this meeting:
More detail will be available as the final Recreation & Parks Strategic Action Plan is completed in early spring, 2020.
UPDATE May 16, 2019:
A public survey was conducted from April 25 to May 16, 2019 that covered a wide variety of questions about recreation fees. Thank you to all those who participated! Results will be available in early fall, when more public notices will be made in regards to a consolidated recreation fee review strategy.
A memo to council regarding the Recreation Fee Review Strategy was presented by Recreation & Parks Commissioner Warren Harris on April 15, 2019. Check out the presentation here: Council Memo (PDF)
As part of the Recreation and Parks Strategic Plan Update being undertaken in 2018/19, the department expects to address the components of the Framework for Recreation in Canada 2015: Pathways to Wellbeing.
The Service Delivery Model developed as part of the 2007 Recreation and Parks Strategic Action Plan outlined the continuum used for the Town to evaluate when recreation programs and services would be provided directly or indirectly. The goal has been to deliver these services in a fiscally responsible manner, while at the same time assuring that financial assistance is available to those who would benefit from participation but cannot afford the fees.
The department does not currently have an up-to-date cost-recovery model to guide decision making in the delivery of programs and services. An updated policy framework would guide Council and staff when assessing actual service and program delivery costs and the associated degree of public benefit. While regional market comparator rates have been reviewed annually, there is a gap in the decision making framework to assess subsidy levels.
A clearer definition of various funding streams (tax revenue, other government funding, sponsorship etc.) and the true cost of service delivery will assist in formalising the scope of municipal government funding to benefit both the individual and the public at large.
The goal of the Recreation and Parks Rates and Fees Strategy is to review the existing rates and fees structure and provide a new framework to rationalize rates, subsidy/cost recovery levels, and future trends based on projected demographics.
The following guiding principles for the review of the Recreation and Parks Department rates and fees are consistent with other municipalities and a policy framework developed by Parks and Recreation Ontario:
Affordable access is critical to the delivery of Recreation and Parks programs, services and facilities
User fee policies must be specific to the needs of the residents of Halton Hills
Rates and fees should strike a balance between reliance on tax base funds, other funding sources, and user fees
All residents should have affordable access to basic services in order to enjoy a better quality of life
To determine how the rates and fees should respond to changing demographics,employment forecasts and income levels
To define a fair and transparent recovery rate for the various programs and services provided in Recreation and Parks
To ensure that required service delivery is sustainable without significant burden on the tax base
To define a rate structure that aligns with those services that most benefit the community and the public's ability to pay (public : private services and benefits)
Getting feedback from the community will be an integral part of the Strategic Action Plan project. Stay tuned for more information to follow.
Why is it important to contribute to the Strategic Action Plan process?
This important document will guide planning and decision‐making related to recreation and parks
services for the next five years. In order to move forward with confidence, the Town wants to know
what YOU think so the plan can reflect community needs.
The Recreation and Parks Strategic Action Plan is about the health of our community and the health of
our environment. It will be the foundation for our quality of life and the quality of growth we foster.
Most of all it is about how we connect with each other. Do not miss the opportunity to contribute as we want to hear your vision for the future.
What sorts of things do Recreation and Parks include?
Recreation and parks include a wide range of Town places, spaces and programs. We want to talk about
parks, indoor and outdoor recreation facilities, and recreation programs and services. Everything from
dog parks to sports fields, arenas to pickleball.
How will the plan be developed?
The Town of Halton Hills invites the public to participate in the creation of the new Recreation and Parks
Strategic Action Plan.
Consultants will be working with Town staff and
Council to roll out a consultation strategy over the coming months. The community input received
through this process will be considered together with background studies, trends, data, and inventory to
help shape the Recreation and Parks Strategic Action Plan.