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Free admission for 'super seniors', preschoolers in Port Coquitlam as city keeps lid on recreation costs

Starting in September, Port Coquitlam will update its recreation fees, keeping rates the same as this year, but making admission free for seniors over 80 and four year olds
New Port Coquitlam community centre
Port Coquitlam is holding the line on recreation fees and making admission free for seniors over 80 and four-year-olds.

Port Coquitlam won’t be raising the fees it charges for recreation.

And seniors 80 years and older will get in for free if they want to hit the gym or swim.

That’s the plan as programs begin to ramp up this fall under Stage 4 of the province’s staged re-opening, with amendments to the city’s fees and charges bylaw set for adoption July 27, with the changes coming into effect Sept. 1.

Tuesday (July 13), councillors approved the first three readings of an updated fee schedule that eliminates levies for “super seniors” (ages 80 and older) — a first for the Tri-Cities — and will allow youngsters up to four years old free access as well. 

(Discounted family rates, financial assistance and passes are also available, find out more here.)

The coming fee break will remove a significant cost for active older people and pre-schoolers.

Currently, only children ages 0 to 3 can get in at no cost; caregivers of four year olds have to pay $3.10 for a single admission to pools at the Hyde Creek or Port Coquitlam community centres. Seniors ages 60 to 84 pay $4.65 — slightly less than the adult charge of $6.20 — while super seniors over 85 pay $3.10.

Under the new fees coming to effect, seniors over 80 won’t pay at all, a move to promote physical activity, mental health and social engagement with the elderly.

Helping families negotiate a post-pandemic world was top of mind for the city’s mayor and many councillors who acknowledged the importance of civic facilities to families and seniors in the city.

In a press release, Mayor Brad West said the city wants to keep recreation facilities affordable, and eliminating a fee hike was one way to do that.

“While we’re all looking ahead to returning to our previous activities, it’s important to recognize that cost continues to be a barrier that prevents some of our residents from fully participating,” West said in a statement.

“This is another step we can take as a city to continue to support our older seniors, local families with young children and residents of all ages through the pandemic, and encourage them to come back when it’s safe to do so.”

“Simply put, it’s the right thing to do at this time.”

The proposed changes would:

• Skip the typical inflationary increase to admission and facility rental fees, effectively freezing fees at rates from early 2020

• Eliminate admission and membership fees for super seniors — ages 80 years and older — to support active aging, increase participation and reduce barriers

• Expand the preschool age category of 0 to four years old with no fees 

• Add waived fees for personal assistants who support recreation patrons, ensuring equitable access to recreation services for people of all abilities

• Include a subsidized rate for youth and youth non-profit groups for picnic shelter bookings

• Reduce the duration of picnic shelter bookings to four hours to allow more people to book these popular facilities 

• Expand the inventory of bookable facilities to include tennis, pickleball and basketball courts, along with new Port Coquitlam Community Centre amenities due for completion this fall, such as Arena 1, the gymnasium, large hall and other spaces.  

“These changes continue to show our city as a leader in providing much-needed support to our residents,” noted Coun. Steve Darling, council’s designate for recreation matters, in the press release. “It’s another step toward preparing to welcome the community back to our facilities.” 

Currently, summer programming is subject to Stage 3 restrictions, with pre-registration required for drop-in programming. 

The city posts its list of recreation fees on its website.