Oak Bay Parks, Recreation, and Culture are in talks with Carnarvon Ball Club after field rate hikes threaten the future of the ball program. Under the new fee structure, Carnarvon sees a jump from the $3.24 per day per diamond that they paid in 2016 to today’s rate of $7.78 per hour for each diamond.
In 2014, Parks, Recreation & Culture Commission identified that Oak Bay field permit fees were extremely low when compared with other municipal departments in the region.
“Given that we had experienced a couple of poor years financially, and that costs to maintain the fields were continuing to rise, the Commission directed staff to bring forward a plan to have Oak Bay’s fees more closely match those in Victoria and Esquimalt,” said Ray Herman, director of Parks, Recreation and Culture.
The department decided to eliminate the four-hour booking to move to an hourly booking system and to eliminate discounts that some groups were experiencing, so that all user groups are treated equally and fairly.
These decisions hit Carnarvon Ball Club, a non-profit volunteer-run sports organization, particularly hard. They are the primary users of the fields during ball season and were a recipient of one of the now-eliminated discounts.
“Asking Carnarvon baseball and softball to provide an hourly schedule instead of a low daily rate has put a tremendous burden on our volunteer administrators. We have around 50 teams, all with variable game and practice schedules. This is a logistical nightmare for us,” said Lisa Rogers, Carnarvon board member and VP of softball.
According to Carnarvon, the discount that used to be applied to their field fees reflected the work and investment that the organization has put into the fields, which included capital to build the buildings, batting cages, install scoreboards and put up fencing. Without the discount, they feel the club won’t survive financially.
After voicing concern about the field rate increase, a meeting was set up between Oak Bay Parks, Recreation, and Culture and Carnarvon Ball Club executives. They are currently in the process of sharing information and both sides are hopeful that a resolution can be found quickly that will work for both parties.
“I’m going to explore options quite quickly because they are trying to set their registration fees for the upcoming season. We are going to look at what we can do while still maintaining our fee structure,” said Herman.