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Are City recreation facilities operated on a cost-recovery basis? If not, what price increase would be required to operate on a cost-recovery basis?


We get this question a lot, and it’s a good question.

The short answer is no, the City of Edmonton does not operate its recreation facilities on a cost-recovery basis. For most facilities, user fees cover about half the annual operating costs. Revenues at recreation facilities have been lower than budgeted in recent years. But we have, on average, seen steady growth in revenues over the past five years. And overall attendance is also on the rise. User fees are reviewed and approved by City Council every year.

There is a recreation facilities user fees policy that aims to:

  • Ensure that fees contribute to the public’s effective and efficient use of City resources 
  • Reduce reliance on property taxes, by recovering a portion of the costs for various services from the user(s) who primarily benefit from them
  • Provide a consistent and equitable process that encourages accessibility and participation
  • Identify the relative pricing provided to various user segments
  • Establish meaningful and realistic goals that provide enough flexibility to meet evolving social values and changing fiscal pressures 

Embedded in the policy is a commitment to provide a consistent and equitable process that encourages accessibility and participation. This is who we are. This is how we build our city and support the communities we serve. Surging attendance at facilities from 2013 to 2017 reflects Edmontonians’ support for our work. From 2013-2017 attendance at recreation facilities grew from 6.9 to 9.3 million. The Leisure Access Program (free and discounted admission for low income Edmontonians) has also grown from 30,000 people visiting 410,000 times in 2013 to more than 48,000 people visiting 794,000 times in 2017.  As of August 28, 2018, there are 65,599 Edmontonians enrolled in this program.   

Each type of recreation facility operates at different cost-recovery ratios. While user fees do not cover the cost to construct or replace recreational facilities, user fees generally recover about half of the annual operating cost. User fees are reviewed and approved by City Council each year.  

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