Surrey council has approved a 75-per cent discount on recreation passes and drop-in admissions for clients aged 70 and older, but Councillor Linda Annis wants it extended to children under 18.
“I think it’s really important,” said Annis, the lone Surrey First councillor elected alongside Mayor Doug McCallum’s Safe Surrey Team, during the Dec. 17 council meeting.
“We’ve taken away some new facilities or potential new facilities (and) we need to have a safe place for our kids to go after school,” she said, referring to the budget council passed earlier in the meeting that will see several civic amenities delayed.
“Sometimes for families, sending your kids to the rec centre can get expensive when you have several children. I think it’s something that could be really helpful in terms of keeping the kids off the street after school,” Annis added, asking staff to come back with a report.
After Annis’ comments, council approved the senior discount, effective Jan. 1, 2019. Currently, clients aged 60 and older receive a 25-per cent discount on the adult admission.
The report states that clients 70 years and older, who have purchased an annual pass at a higher fee, “would receive a pro-rated refund to account for the updated discount,” adding that a “full communication plan” is in place to ensure all eligible seniors are aware of the increased discount.
However, if council does approve the increased discount, the following would have to be implemented in the new year to offset the reduced revenues:
• Reduce printed materials and increase use of social media and digital advertisement;
• Reduce access to some aquatic amenities during “non-prime times” to reduce operating costs such as closing access to pool deep end;
• Ensure significant levels of registration in advance of confirming registered programs
Through the Parks, Recreation and Culture department, the city operates a variety of registered and drop-in programs with user fees set annually.
According to the report, the department “recognizes that some residents have financial challenges accessing services.” The report states that several programs and services are delivered to address “these particular challenges such as the Leisure Access Program and the Value and Social Well-being programs.
In 2017, the report reads, 6,200 seniors aged 70 years or older participated in Parks, Recreation and Culture services, resulting in 217,000 visits from drop-in admissions, passes and swipes.
“Encouraging seniors to be active and engaged is important to the quality of life of older adults,” the report reads. “Through this universal discount, the City can promote life-long participation in our community; low-income seniors can receive additional discounts through the Leisure Access Program.”
Currently, adults (aged 19-59) receive no discounts on passes and drop-in admissions; seniors (aged 60-plus) receive a 25-per cent discount; and children (aged 2-12) and youth (aged 13-18) received 50-per cent discounts. The city also offers swipe passes which provide pre-paid admissions, based on the drop-in admission fee, with a 10 per cent to 20 per cent discount based on the volume of swipes purchased.