The District of Kitimat Council approved a motion on Monday to reduce leisure services monthly passes by 50 per cent during COVID-19 restrictions.
The motion was initially requested by Councillor Terry Marleau, to discount monthly and up to yearly passes.
“As there are reduced patrons permitted at Riverlodge, the pool, and other facilities, and they’re not able to be fully operated, or operate at reduced capacity, it’s proposed that passes…be reduced by 50 per cent for leisure services for the times during COVID,” Marleau said.
He also added that this would just be for the time that COVID-19 restrictions are in place and would go back to normal afterwards.
“Really critical to this, as well,” Marleau added, “is a subsequent bylaw that will be proposed to return the price to the pre-COVID levels once all restrictions have been removed.”
However, Councillor Mario Feldhoff raised some initial concerns, wondering about the people who had already bought passes and how they would be affected.
Martin Gould, Director of Leisure Services, confirmed that anyone who bought a pass that was impacted by Riverlodge shutting down received a refund in the form of a credit, that could be used to buy anything from another membership to drop-in tickets when Riverlodge reopened, which many have already acted upon.
With the facilities not fully open — working under reduced patron or programming allowance — Gould said that this could be a reasonable way to support residents’ continual use of the facilities with the restrictions in place.
Gould, as well as Councillor Rob Goffinet, voiced concerns, though, over how the discount would work with the refunds, as well as how it would work once COVID-19 restrictions start letting up.
“The people who buy during COVID at a reduced price, would their passes be reset to full price after COVID?” Goffinet asked. “Or only those [who buy a pass after] COVID? They would have to pay full price?”
Gould confirmed that, with the way the discounted fee worked in the registration system, anyone who bought a pass during COVID-19 restrictions would get a discount, even if it was a day or two before restrictions let up. Anyone who bought a pass after restrictions let up, would therefore have to pay full price.
Mayor Phil Germuth commented at this time that he felt this was too wide-ranged, and should likely not apply to any pass longer than a month.
“If this were limited to maybe the monthly passes instead of the yearly, then I could possibly support it,” Germuth said. “Otherwise, I feel like we’re going to have a wave of people coming in to buy yearly passes once it’s announced that COVID restrictions will be letting up.”
Marleau agreed with the arguments and ideas put forth, and the motion was amended to include only monthly passes in the 50 per cent discount during restrictions. All were in favour of the amendment, and also all in favour of passing the motion for the discount with the amendment in place.
A bylaw will be considered at a future meeting to reflect the approval of the fee reduction. Gould said they are hoping to get the bylaw to Council on Monday and that once the bylaw is passed, they should have the discount in place within the week.