In an arrangement which Recreation manager Stephanie Ische argues “allows (the Town of St. Marys) to recover some of the costs while still giving the schools a discounted rate,” a new policy was brought forward last night (Tuesday, June 28) regarding the use of Town of St. Marys swimming pools by school groups.
According to Ische’s report to councillors, “schools use many Town facilities at no charge, including: ice pads, room rentals, ball diamonds and soccer fields.” But informal practice regarding the indoor Pyramid Centre pool — with its year-round potential availability for schools, combined with considerable maintenance/supervision costs and the debt incurred through its construction — has not followed that pattern.
“There is currently no reciprocal agreement in place,” noted Ische’s report. A representative from St. Marys DCVI even addressed Town Council last year about the issue, but no resolution was reached.
“We have been trying to come up with a reasonable solution for both parties (the Town and the town’s three schools) and have not found common ground,” Ische’s report advised. “As per the request of (the) Community Services (committee), a policy has been drafted to replace a reciprocal agreement.”
Ische’s report cites rates paid by schools in various surrounding municipalities — ranging from free school use at the Stratford YMCA pool to approximately $90 per hour plus an additional per-hour lifeguard fee in both London and Hanover. Ingersoll charges $89.50 per hour, while Tillsonburg offers either a 25 per cent discount off the regular $80 fee, or a per-student rate of $3.25.
The Town of St. Marys offer to the schools — pending last night’s Council vote — will be $40 per hour.
“To assist in the operations of the facility, we need to monitor what we give away for ‘free’, as many groups look for discounts for facility usage or — in some cases — even ‘free’,” Ische wrote, as justification for charging the $40 fee. “Due to the costs of operating, we need to be mindful of this and charge appropriate costs to off-set basic operating expenses.”
The $40-per-hour rate represents a 42 per cent discount on regular rentals. The discounted school rate will only be available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays during the school calendar.
Ische’s report also recommended the following Town of St. Marys facilities remain available, pending other usage, to schools at no charge: baseball diamonds at Milt Dunnell Field, Teddy’s Field, East Ward Park and Solis Park; parkland at West Ward Park, Solis Park and Meadowridge Park; the tennis courts; ice pads at the Pyramid Centre; and halls at the Pyramid Centre.