Financially strapped arena users in Wellesley Township will be getting some relief, as council this week approved a plan to cut rental fees in half.
Since the province moved Waterloo Region into the red zone due to a surge in COVID-19 cases, minor hockey teams such as the Twin Centre Stars and Twin Centre Hericanes have had to reduce the number of participants on ice to 10 from 22, stressing what was already a tight budget.
While the region remains in red status – the fourth of the five categories established by the province, the last being a lockdown – the minor sports teams will get the 50 per cent discount.
Originally the reduction was set to be 35 per cent as recommended by staff, however Coun. Carl Smit proposed a 50 per cent reduction because he says he does not know how long the current situation might last. He noted hockey organizations are already hurting because they are not able to play games, simply practice, and they are already paying exorbitant fees.
Mayor Joe Nowak agreed with Smit before asking Danny Roth, director of recreation, the cost.
Roth says a 50 per cent reduction would bring the ice rental cost down to approximately $62 per hour ($62.12) plus HST. The original 35 per cent reduction would have brought an hour of ice time down to a cost of $80.75 for these teams.
Coun. Shelley Wagner then asked what the hit would be to the town with a reduction of this rate because they have an obligation to be responsible.
Roth said because of restrictions they are able to offer four hours of ice time on weeknights, this includes a 30-minute break for cleaning in between each use. Over 28 days, there would be 158 billable hours. He continues by stating the original cost of $124 would bring in approximately $19,600 per month. With a 35 per cent decrease that number would shrink to $12,700, and with the 50 per cent reduction $9,500.
Roth said the hydro bills for operating the arena is $9,000 per month and with the leftover money coming in, the staff costs simply would not be covered.
Chief administrative offier Rik Louwagie said that recreation services usually operate at a loss each year anyway, noting the township is receiving federal and provincial funding to help offset shortfalls due to the pandemic.