06/06/2012 10:18 EDT | Updated 08/06/2012 05:12 EDT

City proposes more modest youth league fee increase

City of Toronto staff are scaling down the extent of a proposed increase of fees charged to youth leagues for use of city parks after encountering an outcry from clubs who said they were blindsided by the move.

In a report that will be considered by council's executive committee next week, city staff recommend that youth and child sporting groups be charged at a rate between $2 and $6 an hour for use of city fields starting in 2013. Under the revised plan, which staff say could translate into better maintenance and utilization of the fields, the city could get $850,000.

But Coun. Janet Davis is skeptical of the plan, and said that leagues want to know they will get some bang for their buck.

"Permit fees were rejected by all of the sports associations because they simply weren't going to get any improvements in the fields for the money," she said.

"I'm not convinced that we're going to see improvements in the fields that would justify these fee increases either."

Earlier this year, staff recommended introducing a fee structure that ranged from $5.31 to $10.62 starting this year. That plan would have raised $1.5 million for the city.

That proposal came undone after several youth leagues complained they were taken completely by surprise and could not absorb the costs of the increases, given that they had already set their budgets for the year.

Mayor Rob Ford, responding to the pushback from the youth leagues, agreed a hike shouldn't be implemented this year, and councillors voted unanimously in April in favour of waiving the proposed fees in 2012.

Youth and child sporting groups currently do not have to pay for usage of city-owned fields.

The proposed fee increase came about during the process of crafting the 2012 operating budget. Staff believed that Toronto's fee structure for using sports fields should be brought in line with other Ontario municipalities, many of which levy permit charges.