User fees increased as township tacklesby Matthew Uhrig
rising building costs
WINCHESTER – It is a situation that current council members are
unlikely to alter, but one that grows more precarious as time marches
The problem? Municipally owned buildings, and more specifically the
increasing number that user groups expect the Township of North Dundas
to maintain. This despite the fact overall hall rental rates remain
stagnant, and in certain cases have declined.
In June, recreation director Meaghan Meerburg presented politicians
with a chart that outlined a current rate grid, as well as a proposed
chart, in an effort to turn the tide of financial loss and promote a
higher level of cost recovery.
At that time, politicians bandied about the proposed rate increases,
and tinkered with the idea of imposing fees for user groups or other
individuals making use of the space, who in the past have not paid.
It is a predicament similar to that of ice rental rates in Winchester
and Chesterville, where expenses associated to operating the two
recreational facilities continue to rise but use has remained status
quo or regressed, if only slightly.
To get a better grasp of the situation and mounting troubles, Meerburg
researched historical reasons for usage and the agreements in place,
and then averaged out monthly hours of use for each municipally owned
The results, shared during the Township of North Dundas’ Tues., Aug. 12
council meeting, further confounded council’s need to take action,
Councillor Al Armstrong said.
“Some [of the results are] what I feared it would be, and something we’ve got to address,” he said.
Meerburg averaged monthly hours of use between January and March, and some of the results were startling to politicians.
“[In most cases] these are pre-amalgamation terms,” Mayor Eric Duncan
said. “A lot of the use is for free, but that use is limited.”
At the Chesterville Community Hall, located along the South Nation
River in the same building as the village’s medical centre and library,
there were 74 hours of use in the three-month span, with just 24.5
hours per month.
The same goes for the South Mountain Resource Room, with just 64 hours
of use throughout three months, and 21 total hours per month.
At the Old Town Hall in Winchester, however, usage was second highest
among all the buildings charted with 307.5 hours between January and
March, translating to 102.5 hours per month.
The Mountain Community Hall had the highest percentage of use, with 316
hours throughout the three months, and 105 hours per months, largely
due to the Joanne Whittaker School of Dance using the building four
days per week.
A change council did agree to Aug. 12 was an increase in user fees,
upping the rates across the board. The alterations will be noted among
the township’s user groups, and for any individuals renting a hall in
“It is what’s right… Adjust the rates to what they should be,”
Deputy-Mayor Gerry Boyce said. “Down the road, we’re going to have to
look at what we’re going to do with these facilities.”
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