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User fees: The necessary cost of playing games on York Region fields

Rates across the region vary among centres looking to recoup operating costs

May 2, 2018
John Cudmore

User fees are the cost of doing business for those who play games.

To some, they represent an additional fee plopped on to members within user groups.

The counterpoint from the view of municipalities is that fields don’t maintain themselves and require human attention to be at their best. That translates into paying for the cost of upkeep.

Hey, that money has to come from somewhere, municipalities argue.

Long gone is an era when outdoor facilities were provided at practically no charge to user groups. Looking back, it is a small wonder user groups for indoor facilities, such as arenas, paid high rental fees to pursue their activities without balk.

It is generally conceded that without fees, tax bases would absorb costs of maintenance and staffing that provides upkeep of facilities where residents (and non-residents for an additional fee, of course) spend their leisure hours.

User fees in York Region's nine municipalities joined the game in some municipalities in the mid-1990s.

According to Town of Richmond Hill spokesperson Lynn Chan, the intent is to help offset the expense of delivering programs and services to the community on its 40 ball diamonds and 45 soccer pitches, plus two multi-use locations. Likewise, costs are associated with service delivery and, to some degree, market rate comparison involving surrounding communities.

That said, each community creates its own pay schedule based on several factors and many that are unique from one centre to the next.

“It really depends on what the recovery mandate is for the individual community,” said Mary Creighton, director of recreation services for the City of Markham. “Fields and facilities do cost money to operate. Each municipality has a formula to determine recovery costs so there really is no right or wrong answer.”

Creighton points out the recovery target in Markham for user fees is 70 per cent, with the remainder coming from the municipal tax rate. That recovery target varies between municipalities.

The City of Markham provides permits for 153 facilities -- 93 soccer pitches and 60 baseball and softball diamonds.

“You always want to know if your fees are out of hand,” said Creighton. “We look at our best practices or see what our neighbours are doing. Local groups let us know what others are charging. Each municipality has its own recovery model so to compare is difficult.”

There are several factors that determine the price point at which rates are set. The attached chart includes consideration for youth versus adult. Residents receive preferential rates as opposed to non-residents. Lighted fields versus unlit. Grass or turf. Prime versus non-prime time. Even tournament rentals have their own guidelines for rental terms.

“We want to make sure we’re looking at a proper cost recovery model and (be) comparable to other community’s our size,” said Creighton.

It is worth noting that in many communities, upkeep of facilities is shared between the municipality and school boards in instances where facilities are located on school board property. It is a marriage of convenience, and viewed a win-win for both sides.

The Town of Georgina’s Jodi Pridham, registration and booking supervisor, said that municipality moved from a per person fee structure built into the registration fees for user groups to an hourly rate in 2009.

She pointed out user fees are calculated on three main factors for its bookings at 36 facilities split evenly between ball diamonds and soccer pitches, including Consumer Pricing Index, market value and local comparatives in neighbouring communities.

“We’ve always kept (user groups) in the know for when fees are reviewed and there is always the opportunity for them to comment,” said Pridham, noting the municipality has received accolades for its soccer pitches at its Recreational Outdoor Campus (ROC). “We do a lot of research and send our proposal to council.”

Outdoor seasons typically start around May 1, field conditions and weather permitting. This year, however, a recent ice storm is pushing back that unofficial access date.

So, with a focus on diamonds and soccer/multi-use fields, municipalities in York Region offered the rates user groups will pay in 2018 to play their games.

For comparison purposes, where possible, fees are based on prime time and higher end rated fields, unless otherwise noted.


Baseball/Softball - Youth: $10.40 per hour; Adult: $16.50 per hour.

Soccer/Multi-Use - $9.05 per hour; Adult: $10.85.

Artificial Turf - Range from $9.05 (youth) and $10.85 (adult) per hour to $63.80 in off-season.

*East Gwillimbury

Baseball/Softball - Major Field - Youth: $8 per hour; Adult: $13 per hour.

Lights: $9 per hour.

Soccer/Multi-Use - Major Field - Youth: $7 per hour; Adult: $10 per hour.

Minor Field - Youth - $6 per hour; Mini & Micro Fields - $4 per hour.

Lights: $12 per hour.


(2-hour slots, B diamonds)

All fields - Youth ranges from $9.90 (Mini-field) to $23.75.

Adult ranges from $35.64 to $53.47.

Turf fields - (Hourly) - Youth - $23.75; Adult - $53.47.

*King Township

Baseball/Softball - Youth - $12.03 per hour; Adult - Minor - $17.19, plus HST; Major - $23.01, plus HST

Soccer/Multi-Use - Youth - $12.58; Adult - $17.97/$25.16 (Unlit/lit) per hour, plus HST.

*Hydro rate is $14.38 per two hours.


Baseball/Softball - Youth - $6.82/$12.40; Adult - $13.67/$23.67 (Unlit/lit).

Soccer/Multi-Use - Same as above.

Artificial turf - Youth - $15.03 per hour; Adult - $27.11 per hour.


Baseball/Softball - Youth - $19.72/$24.37 per hour (Unlit/lit); Adult - $36.02/$42.53 per hour (Unlit/Lit).

Soccer/Multi-Use - Same as above.

Artificial Turf – Youth - $29.38/$33.50 (Unlit/lit); Adult - $51.98/$57.74 (Unlit/lit).

*Richmond Hill

(2-hour slots)

Baseball/Softball - Youth - $6.97/$9.50 (Unlit/lit); Adult - $13.93/$18.99 (unlit/lit).

Soccer/Multi-Use - Youth - $8.86/$10.12 (Unlit/lit); Adult - $17.73/$20.25 (unlit/lit.

Artificial Turf -   Youth - $50.38; Adult - $76.93.


Baseball/Softball - Junior - $2.23 per hour; Senior - $3.53/$13.94 (Unlit/lit); Premium - $12.51/$23.11 per hour (Unlit/lit).

Soccer/Multi-Use - Mini - $3.53 per hour; Senior - $5.21/$17.83 (Unlit/lit); Premium - $13.63/$26.51 per hour (Unlit/lit).


Note: Whitchurch-Stouffville uses a per person fee built into registration group fees.

Baseball/Softball - Youth - $30 - Adult - $80.

Unlit - $50 youth - $80 lit

Soccer/Multi-Use - Same as above.