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Vancouver Park Board approves fee hikes for 2024, sparking backlash

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The Vancouver Park Board approved its operating budget for 2024, bringing with it increases to recreation fees and parking.

Park commissioners approved an allocation of $168.8 million to cover park expenses, which is a $12.5 million bump from 2023.

To help pay for the increase, there will be an average six per cent jump in charges and fees.

The list of changes includes a 13 per cent jump in parking, a seven percent on average spike in golfing at city-run courses, a nine per cent increase in getting a permit for special events and filming. A ticket for the Stanley Park train will rise six per cent, and renting baseball diamond will double in price.

On Tuesday evening, the minor softball association spoke out against the rental fee hike, which would increase their hourly rate to five dollars.

"Currently, field expenses comprise approximately 20 per cent of our total expenses annually. The current proposal would increase our permitting fees by 108 percent more than doubling them," said Leigh Ramsden, the president of the Vancouver Minor Softball Association.

“I find it surprising and disturbing that the park board would want children and youth to shoulder a higher percentage of these increased fees compared to everyone else.”

Commissioner Tom Digby proposed an amendment to decrease the fee increase for sporting fields to 34 per cent but it was voted down.

The nearly $169 million dollars in increased funding will go towards several projects, including improving safety and security in parks.

The park board seeks to develop a fire safety plan to mitigate the wildfire risk in Stanley Park while also mitigating the spread of invasive species. This plan would also see the removal of hazardous trees in response to the looper moth outbreak. The board also intends to plant 100,000 trees by 2026.

The extra cash will also go into repairing the Jericho Pier and other aging infrastructure, as well as seawall and shoreline maintenance to address climate change and rising sea levels.

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