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Youth sports to get HST break on rentals

Hockey, figure skaters could save $25 each in registration fees

Youth sports organizations in Fort Erie may get a break on user fees for arenas, fields and other sports facilities to make up for an eight-per cent hike caused by the Harmonized Sales Tax.

Town council endorsed Sandy Annunziata’s idea to subsidize the additional cost that the new tax imposes for 2010 and to revamp the fee schedule bylaw.

Staff estimated that minor sports groups would have to pay $23,824 per year more on account of the 13 per cent HST. Prior to July 1, they paid five per cent GST but no provincial sales tax.

Arena users are hardest hit with a $25 impact on each of the 900 users in minor hockey and figure skating.

Outdoor facilities like soccer and baseball fields count 2,100 users who will each pay 32 cents more. Also affected are arena floor rentals and swim lessons.

Subsidizing the 2010 increase that took effect in July would cost the town an additional $12,000.

The issue came before council in April when the Greater Fort Erie Minor Hockey Association requested tax relief.

The association said the only way to meet the increase would be to increase registration fees.

Annunziata said there are a lot of health benefits to an active lifestyle which serves to reduce health care costs.

“If we support health active lifestyles, we save millions in health care in the future,” he said. “We can lead by example and help people get their children involved in sports.”

Martha Lockwood said the spending is small compared to the number of users and suggested the tax break be extended to include adult users.

Rick Shular disagreed with Lockwood, and councillor Tim Whitfield said an across-the-board reduction may encourage more users and be better for the net bottom line.

The specific request of the minor hockey association was denied, but council asked the treasurer to adjust the schedule to allow for the decrease and to bring the amendments to the user fee bylaw to council.

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