What was met with opposition last spring has been met with agreeance in 2014.
Last spring, the Town proposed tripling user fees paid by Neepawa United Soccer Association's (NUSA) youth and adult teams for The Flats soccer fields from $10 per player in 2012 to $30 in 2013.
After being met with strong opposition from all three soccer organizations – youth, men's and women's – council altered its resolution, making a compromise to keep 2013 youth rates at $10 per player while raising adult user fees to $20, with the caviat the issue would be revisited for 2014.
The matter was revisited at its meeting last Tuesday, where council passed an adjusted user fee system that sees youth fees remain at $10 per player, and adults at $20, for 2014, before both increase by $2.50 annually in both 2015 and 2016.
“(Leisure services manager) Amanda Novak has done a good job with reaching a consensus with the soccer groups,” Coun. Bill Stilwell said.
“I think we have to recognize the fees do have to go up. The Town of Neepawa has developed two soccer fields at The Flats, spending in excess of $100,000.
“The soccer fields are a regional facility, and I think it's only reasonable people who use this field pay for its use.”
In their opposition last fall, the men's and women's user groups used a comparison to other communities showing a $30 per player fee would be among the highest in 13 Manitoba communities contacted.
Meanwhile, the youth organization noted the increase would make a sport that aims to be cost-conscious a bit less accessible.
All three soccer groups were in favour of the fee schedules passed last Tuesday.
“The Town listened to our concerns and reached a compromise we appreciate. It allows all three user groups to keep their annual fees at an affordable rate for all families, which was our main concern,” Kaiten Critchlow, who is involved with the three organizations, said. “Families in Neepawa already pay one of the province's highest mill rates, so I'm happy to see that factor into recreational accessibility and opportunities for its residents, in particular its younger families.”
The three organizations are expecting to register, combined, between 140-200 athletes this spring/summer. The organizations paint the lines, and purchase nets and goalposts for The Flats.
NUSA was instrumental in both fundraising for, and the creation of, The Flats recreation area now used for various sports, including an outdoor ice rink.