Now that Hackett Park’s new outdoor stage is open, Sechelt council has moved to add a fee for renting that space.
At the Dec. 7 meeting, David Douglas, director of financial services, told council that most of Sechelt’s community facilities have such charges attached to them as there is staff time associated with every rental. The outdoor stage at Hackett Park opened in July and staff anticipate its use will also increase the use of the nearby concession stand, leading to the need for more cleaning.
“The proposed fees are meant to recover a portion of the costs to operate the facilities, primarily contracted cleaning services and electricity use,” the report states. “Staff are proposing a tiered fee structure to ensure that the facilities remain accessible to non-profit organizations and activities, and to encourage public events, community arts and culture initiatives, and other activities that contribute to community well-being and a vibrant downtown.”
Council voted in favour of applying tiered fees for use of the outdoor stage including the change room and outdoor seating area: private/commercial use (at $25 per hour or $125 per day), commercial ticketed ($50 per hour, $250 per day) or non-profit ticketed ($10 per hour, $50 per day) events. The concession stand is available for rent in conjunction with such events, for another fee. Free public events would only be charged the concession stand rate of $20 per day.
Events booked before the Dec. 7 meeting will still pay the existing rental rate of $20 per day for the concession stand and free use of the stage. Coun. Dianne McLauchlan voted against all three readings. The decision’s next step is adoption.
Mayor John Henderson asked about expected revenue. Douglas said it would probably be $2,500 per year, considering some of the events would be hosted by the district.
McLauchlan, who lives in Sechelt village, commented on noise from venues and raised a concern about parks becoming privatized through scheduling and fees when they are meant to be a community amenity. She asked if a community group or school could use the facilities for free.
Coun. Darren Inkster added there are opportunities the district can publicize so the public can ask to waive fees (such as for non-profit, public engagement events). McLauchlan also asked about what the limits of use are on an area when it’s privately rented about how it will be demarcated.
Henderson noted that waiving fees still incurs a cost to the District.
Coun. Alton Toth commented that he is disappointed to see the rate of non-profit and free events drop off. He suggested offering Hackett Park as part of the Sunshine Coast Regional District’s joint use agreement with the Sunshine Coast School District No. 46, which Toth said the District of Sechelt and Town of Gibsons also participate in.