Joe Virdiramo debates the proposed 2013 budget on Feb. 6, 2013.
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City council defeated an amendment that would have frozen user fees for a number of children and youth programs.
Councillors pored through roughly half of the more than 400-page budget at Wednesday night’s meeting. Council made their way through various departments during the meeting including Superior North EMS, Fire and Rescue and Community and Emergency Services.
At one point, Westfort Coun. Joe Virdiramo asked for an amendment to the budget by freezing user fees for youth and children programs at Volunteer Pool and Sir Winston Churchill Community Pool.
“This won’t affect the budget,” Virdiramo told council.
“If we are serious with what we say in trying to promote activities for youth and young children in our community, then let’s walk the talk. If we’re serious, let’s get serious.”
The amendment was defeated six-to-five.
Under the proposed budget, the fees for summer camps and skating programs would increase by about two per cent. User fees at volunteer and Churchill Pools for private swim lessons, and birthday parties would increase by five per cent and registered programs by about two per cent.
Virdiramo’s amendment wouldn’t have included freezing the user fees at the Canada Games Complex.
Although freezing the increases wouldn't have changed the budget, it would have cost the city roughly $15,000 in new revenue.
Current River Coun. Andrew Foulds supported the amendment and said making things cheaper for children isn’t a bad investment.
Northwood Coun. Mark Bentz disagreed and although he said he appreciated the idea, he thought it wasn’t realistic.
“A two per cent increase is at or below inflation,” he said. “It keeps us in our cost recovery models. I don’t agree with this because it doesn’t even cover all the programs. There’s an inconsistency in the amendment.”
Virdiramo had also requested open two heated pools a week earlier in the spring.
Council directed administration look into before giving a decision.
Following the meeting, Virdiramo said with climate change and the fact the pools are heated there’s no reason for them to remain closed.
“Like what Coun. Foulds said, we talk about seniors, the disabled but we really have to start doing more for our children and our youth,” he said. “It wasn’t much money to spend. It wouldn’t have impacted the budget; it wasn’t going to take away from Community and Recreational Services.”
Items expected to be discussed at the next budget meeting will include city police, parks and the District Social Services Administration Board.
Another public consultation meeting will also be held on Feb. 13 at 6:30 p.m.
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