Hockey team gets a break

The November 15th South Dundas council meeting saw a lot of discussion surrounding the Morrisburg Rink rental fees.

The issue was raised due to a letter received by the Township,  sent by Bruce Mullin about the “more-than-double” rate of the ice rental fee for Seaway District High School’s hockey team.

According to Mullin’s letter, last year the team paid $37 per hour for ice time, but this year the rate has gone up to $87 per hour.

The Morrisburg Rink’s rental fees are $125 per hour for adult prime time rental, $95 per hour for children’s prime time rental, and a universal $85 per hour for non-prime rental. All prices are before the addition of HST.

Manager for Recreation, Don Lewis, provided council with a breakdown of rink costs. It costs “$24 per hour for electricity when the compressors are running. When there’s no rental, it costs $8 per hour.”

“The hourly rate for one of our employees (with benefits calculated in) is $29.66 per hour.”

“It’s $53.67 in total. That does not include the natural gas we burn for heaters or the zamboni. These are just two of the key things,” he continued.

In checking with other arenas, Lewis found that Morrisburg’s prices are comparable.

“People think that when the rink’s not being used that it’s not costing us as if it was being used,” said Chief Administrative Officer Stephen McDonald.

The main concern seemed to revolve around two points: what is fair and consistent for everyone; and, what can council do to help support the existence of a hockey team for the local high school.

Councillor Jim Graham pointed out: “They got a rate last year and they were expecting it this year. My suggestion is that we give them a reduced rate on their practice time. This year they got hit with something they weren’t expecting.”

Mayor Steven Byvelds said, “one of the challenges I have is that we went through the budget. We felt they were fair. There’s no expectation to make money. It’d be nice to break even. There’s a lot of cost we haven’t accounted for.”

He pointed out the probability that “if we allow a break on this one” then minor hockey might ask “‘if the high school can get a break, then why can’t we?’”

He later said, “I just think it’s fair that we try to be consistent.”

He admitted that the hockey program for high school students “gets them out and gives them school spirit.”

He said, “we try to be fair and still run our business and try to keep deficits to a minimum.”

Council members each saw the need to be fair and the need to keep deficits to a minimum, but many also wanted to do something for the high school’s hockey team.

In the end, it was decided that for 2011/2012, ice rental fees for Seaway’s team will be $50 per hour for practice ice time and $85 per hour for tournament ice time.  The following years will see the team paying the same price as everyone else.

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