Struggling Port Coquitlam families can now get more help paying for recreation programs.
An update to the city’s Financial Assistance for Recreation Participants Policy will increase financial assistance for children and youth under age 18 to $500 a year (up from $200 previously) to be applied toward camps and programs at a discount of 75 per cent.
The changes mean a qualifying family with two adults and two children could now receive a total annual discount of $1,400 — $500 per child and $200 per adult.
As well, qualifying recipients can get a free One City Pass (valued up to $502) which provides free entry to drop-in swimming, skating, fitness, racquetball/squash and all-age gym sports across the City (details at portcoquitlam.ca/recpass).
To qualify for the Financial Assistance program, applicants must fall under Statistics Canada’s Low Income Cut Off (LICO) threshold, which is $34,581 (after taxes) for a family of four in a city the size of Port Coquitlam.
Families who need further help to cover their portion of costs can also apply to the Canadian Tire Jumpstart Program. Information is posted on the Financial Assistance webpage.
“These new enhancements to our financial assistance program will make a big difference to people of all ages who are struggling financially right now, and supporting our local families is a priority,” stated Coun. Steve Darling, council’s designate for recreation matters, in a news release.
“Being healthy, active and engaged is important to help people achieve success in life and makes our community a better place for everyone.”
This week’s policy change was based on council’s request in March for staff to explore additional opportunities to support children, youth and overall drop-in participation, and follow other efforts to boost the program so more families use it.
A BREAK ON PASS FEES FOR SENIORS 85-PLUS CONSIDERED
More support for pass fees for residents aged 85 and older is also being investigated and will be brought forward for council consideration this summer.
Coun. Darling told Tri-City News the city would do a further review of the policy if it’s not reaching people who need it the most.
“It’s a good starting point,” he said, “It’s meant for people who are in low income situations who are not able to have their kids participate in something.”
Participants can use their discount at any time of the year and applicants can have their income confirmed through an approved community group or organization to improve access and affordability.
Coun. Darling said the city will be reaching out to agencies to let them know the program is available so they can pass the information on to qualifying families.
Other supports the city is providing include free facility access to personal assistants who are supporting a recreation patron; one on one support for children through the Leisure Buddy Program.; free and low-cost opportunities in swimming, skating and arts and culture.