Users fees for general swims at the regional pool in Carbonear have gone up by as much as 15 per cent since Jan. 1, and town leaders hope the increases will help slash a growing annual operating deficit at the facility.
Rates for all categories have changed, with a 10-swim pass for children and students going from $20 to $27.50, for example.
Some other changes include the following:
° Children and students - $3, up from $2.50 (single swim); $62.50, up from $50 (25-swim pass);
° Adults - $4.50, up from $4 (single swim); $37.50, up from $30 (10-swim pass); $87.50, up from $75 (25-swim pass);
° Seniors - $3.50 (single swim); $32.50 (10-swim pass); and $75 (25-swim pass).
The increases came about following a directive from the town council to analyze the rates, with an eye toward reducing the deficit.
"They recognized that the deficit, or the amount that the town was committing, was increasing, so they asked us to get some information," said Rob Button, recreation director for the Town of Carbonear.
The goal is to cut into the current $186,000 annual deficit that the pool is costing Carbonear taxpayers, and hopefully reducing it to between $125,000 and $150,000.
"We didn't want to see the deficit rise to the point where we wouldn't be able to provide the facility," he said. "We don't want to see it go above that if at all possible."
The rates for swim lessons have remained largely unchanged, with the exception of preschoolers. The fee in this category has increased to $60 for multiple sessions, up from $45.
Despite the changes, Button said registration numbers for swim lessons are on par with past years, at between 200 to 250 participants.
Late last year, controversy swirled around the pool after the town toyed with the idea of changing registration, with one option being to allow Carbonear residents to register first for swim lessons. The concept was later dropped, largely because of opposition from non-resident users.
In line with other pools
It was through careful deliberation and study that Button and his staff settled on the new rate formula, which was based largely on fees charged at other year-round aquatic centres in the province.
"We didn't increase it to the point where it would keep people from coming," he said.
The pool is a busy facility, attracting users from throughout the Trinity Conception region, and was sorely missed during an extended shutdown in 2011, during which a $1 million upgrade to building was undertaken.