City hall to raise user fees: marriage, swimming and summer camp more pricey, but lawn bowling is now free

City hall to raise user fees: marriage, swimming and summer camp more pricey, but lawn bowling is now free

Lawn bowling is now free, but getting married is going to cost you (Image: Duchamp)

When he was running for mayor, and well before that, Rob Ford said repeatedly that city hall didn’t have a revenue problem, it had a spending problem. Ford’s point was that the city needed to trim its budget—to which the city’s voters enthusiastically said yes—but the problem, now that he’s in office, is squaring the mayor’s tax cuts with his promise that services wouldn’t face any “major” cuts.

The result was predicted and predictable: a chaotic budget process as the city and other agencies struggle on one side to make enough penny-ante cuts, and on the other to make enough fee increases to balance out Ford’s early gifts to motorists and homeowners. The city finally got the details of the proposed user fee increases out yesterday, and the short version is that costs are going up in small increments all over the place—a family with kids could easily find itself getting dinged with higher fees through the year.

Some of the highlights for fee increases, from the city’s PDF:

  • A bunch of fitness classes (Pilates, tai chi) go up more than $2.
  • A summer camp offering goes up by as much as $9 per child.
  • The year-long family swim pass goes up $9.
  • And the one that’s been getting a lot of press: the cost of getting married (licence and chamber rental) is going up $35.

Meanwhile, somewhat bizarrely, lawn bowling will now be free. (In the document, it’s coded as “harmonization,” meaning it’s supposed to bring Toronto in line with the other GTA cities.) For the non–lawn bowlers among us, however, it’s going to be more expensive to stay fit in the city. If your family maintains any kind of active lifestyle thanks to city services, these fare hikes are going to take a chunk out of those savings from the death of the car tax.

It’s a good thing it’s cheaper to own a car. We’ll all be out of breath, anyway.

User fee hikes could raise cost of fun and fidelity [Toronto Star]
2011 Recommended Change to Existing User Fees (PDF) [City Of Toronto]
Toronto poised to hike recreation fees to find $23-million [Globe and Mail]
• City budget hikes rec fees [Toronto Sun]