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In Toronto, users pay—but for what?
By: Philip Preville
Published: February 13, 2008 by
Source: Toronto Life
Now that the hysteria over recreation fees has subsided—a 21 per cent increase for city programs reduced to eight per cent, which is still more than quadruple the inflation rate—perhaps we can now have a sanguine discussion about the philosophical ramifications of user fees.
Whether it’s for recreation or trash collection or anything else, the more the city charges for individual services, the more demanding residents will become, and the less sympathetic they will be when the city cries poor, as it so often does these days.
Here’s an example from personal experience. I am part of an adult shinny hockey league, and we pay for a permit to reserve one of the city’s outdoor rinks. Our fees went up by six per cent in 2007 and will rise by another eight per cent in 2008. Currently we pay a little over $100 every week for 90 minutes of ice time, which is eminently reasonable.
The catch is that, in exchange for the fees we pay, we receive…nothing. No guarantee of ice maintenance, no refunds for poorly maintained ice. Zip. Nada. Bupkis.