NSSRC User Fees Working Group

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On Monday evening, representatives from all our major sports and recreational user groups met with members of Town of Midland staff to discuss the funding shortfall for the North Simcoe Sports and Recreation Centre. The session was led by facilitator, Erik Lockhart, from Queen’s University whose expertise is in guided decision making. Erik facilitated our recent Strategic Planning session with Council and staff and was a great fit for this exercise.

The purpose of the session was to explore sustainable funding options for the NSSRC and to meet Council’s 2024 directive to raise $55,000 in other source revenue, to cover the budget shortfall from the $1.8 million in yearly Midland tax dollars needed to operate and sustain the regional facility. With the lack of committed supportive funding from the neighbouring municipalities, the 2024 budget survey of Midland ratepayers and ultimately endorsed by Midland Council, favoured user-fees as a principal method to share some the costs with frequent / heavy non-Midland users through the groups that they belong to. The alternative would be funding agreements between Municipalities, which has met with resistance thus far.

Local news coverage: https://www.midlandtoday.ca/local-news/tiny-tay-no-shows-as-north-simcoe-rec-centre-group-holds-inaugural-session-8618722

Participants / Stakeholders

Participants

  • Midland Minor Hockey Association (MMHA)
  • North Simcoe Girls Hockey Association (NSGHA)
  • Penetanguishene and Midland Basketball League (PMBL)
  • Midland and Penetanguishene Ball Hockey Association
  • Midland Lacrosse
  • Askennonia Seniors Centre
  • Boys and Girls Club
  • Town of Midland – representation from CAO, Mayor, Operations and Finance.
  • Town of Penetanguishene – representation from CAO, Deputy Mayor/Councillor and Recreational Services
  • Township of Springwater – representation from Mayor

Declined To Participate

  • Township of Tay
  • Township of Tiny

The mood at the beginning of the meeting was somber and it was clear that nobody was happy to be having this discussion, although that mood seem to change to a mix of optimism, understanding and hope by the time the 3 hour session wrapped up.

The participants were all keenly engaged, sharing their concerns with any impacts that may drive down participation in their organizations, and thoughtfully engaging in the group discussions around how we got here, what it takes to keep the sport complex financially sustainable and coming up with many options and alternatives to non-resident fees. Erik’s online collaboration tools helped collate ideas, and had the groups ranking and re-ranking the refined list of options that will ultimately be distilled into a report to Midland Council with recommendations coming from this working group. I won’t share the top recommendations ahead of the report, but suffice to say that there were favoured options that could negate non-resident fees and help bridge that $55,000 funding gap. The consensus was clear and that is testimony to the open-mindedness of the participants.

This kind of group thinking, solutioning and collaboration is at the heart of our community engagement strategy this term and seem well-received.

I want to express my gratitude towards these committed and dedicated mostly-volunteer group organizers and leaders who took time away from their families to help us chart a sustainable path forward for the NSSRC and balance the needs of the Midland ratepayer with the desire to continue to serve our neighbouring municipalities with this amazing sport and recreation complex.

I eagerly await the report that will come to council in the coming weeks and remain hopeful that Municipal funding agreements may become an obvious alternative to non-resident and/or increased user fees.

Agenda and Background Data That Informed The Discussion

10 Comments

  1. A step in the right direction. I look forward to the report! Thank you to all who participated!!

    • if viable, lets turn this complex into its own business, with shares and dividends, run by a business group of men and women with a board of directors, worth a look with the right people it will work

      • The costs associated with creating and running a separate corporation / board (like the EDCNS, MBLDC, SSEA etc) would add significant additional bloat to this and since rec centres like this are never profitable (even in major centres like Toronto, York, Peel etc), the value proposition would not be there for investors. The only way to actually make profit for investors would be to raise revenues far beyond any of the capacity of the user groups and the place would go bankrupt. I don’t see the appeal in your suggestion but maybe there is more you can offer to support your idea?

        • in Toronto and surrounding area a number of these rinks are privately owned about 50 of them, a Toronto company is called Rinxs and the Ice Palace in Oakville is another. I am sure these Companies are not losing money. worth a look.

          • RINX does not have stands for spectators to watch. RINX is soley designed as one trick pony. NSSRC is an utopia of services for the community. RINX were to run the show residents would pay 5X the fees from current state.

          • do we know which parts of NSRC make money and those that do not, do we know why the building is with out functions, I would think we can offer many functions in this building, why is it not full and humming like a fine tuned engine, maybe we need a building function
            specialist with a team, just to keep the building humming., sports and functions change for a lot of reasons, keeping tuned to this is very important. Yes the build is getting old functions are changing, we need a key person in management with good folk around him. This building needs to be run as a business, 100% with a full plan of income and expenses, I may consider this as a project, would depend on who was available from the Town to help, we would need a team to make it all work. Willing to chat if you are interested in some thoughts.

          • So you are asking if Council would direct staff to look into divesting the NSSRC to a Toronto corporation? We would show them 1.8m OPEX losses and the 10-20yr capital needs and lack of ability for our user groups to pay more than they already do… is this really a sound business decision Rod? You are well-versed with our financials and have been lobbying for a citizen-led steering / advisory group… why not take this on as your first project? I’d be genuinely interested in the outcome.

  2. Seems simple if Tiny taxpayers want $150 to park at their beach shouldn’t Midland taxpayers ask the same to park at our rec centre ? Why would Tiny and Tay not participate ?
    Perhaps they know their not paying their fair share ? We all want kids to play so we should all be footing the bill.
    Having spent thousands of hours in rinks across the gta there are many that are private and running well.
    I think the difference may be that they don’t have endless tax dollars to keep going. Nor sympathetic politicians caring about how much it costs to play. Simple task for staff to figure out. How much do users pay in private facilities? So are we not charging enough or is it under utilized? How much do we pay for our unionized staff vs private ?

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