Fernie City Hall

User fees apply to city property

Those looking to put on festivals/events in the city should be aware of user fees associated with city property rentals.

Organizers looking to put on festivals or events in Fernie should be aware of costs involved with the use of city items such as the stage, tables, chairs and crowd control barriers when planning their budgets.

Back in March, council introduced bylaw 2056, the Leisure Services and User Regulation and Fees bylaw – that sets out the costs of items.

At council meetings over the past couple of months, members of the public requesting money from the Resort Municipality Infrastructure (RMI) fund to help with the costs of putting on festivals or events said they had not budgeted for the cost of renting items, as they had not realized it was no longer free.

The reason for the user-fee system that was implemented is so the city has money to draw from when event infrastructure needs to be repaired or replaced without having to collect it through general taxation, said the city’s chief administrative officer.

Jim Hendricks said through the RMI program, the city has made substantial investments in festival and event infrastructure over the past couple of years, purchasing items such as a stage, barriers and generators, spending close to $200,000 in the process. The city also purchased new tables and chairs for the community centre, not through RMI funding, which cost an additional $50,000.

“The idea behind setting fees is that eventually all of that infrastructure is either going to have to be repaired or replaced, and if we’re not collecting some kind of user fee directly related to that equipment, then we’re going to have to collect that additional revenue needed to repair or replace that infra by increasing the property taxes,” he said. “It’s really a user-pay system where we can collect that money and put it into a reserve when we need it.”

The pay structure will work on three different levels as stated in the bylaw. The middle rate is set at the commercial rate, which would be for for-profit organizations; the not-for-profit rate is 50 per cent less than the commercial rate; and the third rate gives a 30 per cent discount on multi-day rentals.

“The idea is that, for the not-for-profits we want to give them a break. With them not having to go to Cranbrook, for example, to rent a stage at a commercial rate, we’re hoping this is a more convenient option and a cheaper option because we’ve reduced it form the commercial rate.”

Council is very supportive of these festivals and events, he said.

“I think everybody agrees that it really adds to the vibrancy of the town. We’re more than willing to do what we can do [to help out].”