Hit for the first time with rental fees for space at the arena, the Woolwich Minor Hockey Association will get a break on the cost of its storage area, township councillors decided this week.
Reacting to a request from WMHA president Steve Hanley, councillors agree to cut by 50 per cent the rental fee on the makeshift storage space at the Woolwich Memorial Centre. The group will continue to pay $6 per square foot for its 156-sq.-ft. office, but $3 for some 230 sq. ft of storage tucked away under an external stairway.
The organization never paid anything for space at the old Elmira Arena. Since moving to the WMC, however, all user groups have been assessed leasing fees.
While Mayor Todd Cowan spoke in favour of waiving the fees, other councillors worried about setting a precedent that would see other groups looking for free space in the facility.
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Director of recreation and facilities Larry Devitt explained the township began charging rental fees a disparity between those groups who got free space and those who got nothing. And, having spent $23 million on the building, Woolwich needed to recoup some of extra operating costs through higher rates.
Under the original arrangement, all user groups were to pay the $6 rate, phased in over three years. The Woolwich Seniors Association, which operates the 2,168-square-foot seniors’ centre, will pay $13,008 when the full rate applies. Woolwich Community Services, which runs the youth drop-in centre, faces a charge of $10,350 for its 1,725 square feet.
Three other groups will small amounts of office space will see comparatively smaller charges: Woolwich Minor Hockey, 393 square feet, $2,358; Woolwich Girls Minor Hockey, 237 and $1,422; and the Woolwich Figure Skating Club, $942 for 157 square feet.
The lease agreements are based on a similar arrangement reached with Woolwich Youth Soccer, which now occupies the former visitor information centre building on First Street in Elmira.
The Elmira Sugar Kings Junior B hockey club, facing a bill of some $11,000 a year, reached an agreement with the township in 2010 to hold a joint fundraising event in lieu of rental fees.
Where Cowan worried about “nickel and diming” the minor hockey group – pointing to the $25,000 it raised for the building fund – other councillors noted the increased costs of running the WMC, where expenditures were $385,000 over budget last year.
“We need to make a statement here that we’re going to work for our groups, not against them,” charged Cowan.
But others, including Coun. Allan Poffenroth, argued that if WMHA was exempted, than others could reasonably expect the same thing, undermining revenues that are already too low at the facility.
Rather than lower any other fees, councillors asked Devitt to meet with user groups to find ways to meet the needs of both groups.