Parks & Recreation Fee Changes

Parks & Recreation fee changes will take place on April 1, 2024.   

In 2022, we announced changes to the Parks & Recreation fee structure for recreation programs, services, rentals, drop-ins and membership fees over the next five years. In accordance with the five-year fee structure changes, Parks & Recreation fees, including membership fees, will be increasing effective April 1, 2024.

The fee changes will benefit residents in several ways, including:

  • New user categories will be based on the age group and type of organization.
  • Consistent subsidization for fee categories. For example, the fee structure will ensure all youth programs across the municipality receive the same subsidy.
  • Reduced risk of unexpected fee increases. The new fee structure accounts for inflation, helping to reduce unexpected and potentially significant fee increases.
  • Predictable five-year review cycle. New requirement to review fee structure every five years.
  • More inclusive and affordable programming including the Affordable Access Program, senior discount, student discount, employee discount and volunteer discount. Residents have the opportunity to enroll in the Recreation Funding Access Program that provides rec opportunities to children, youth and adults in financial need. Depending on the need, the cost of rec programs could be 50% or 100% covered by the municipality. Enrollment is required annually.
  • No user charge for Parks that are rented for public events that are open to the public, non-exclusive and free of charge.
  • Overall standardization, consistency and transparency of fees across the municipality.

If you have any questions regarding how the Parks and Recreation fee changes will affect you, please email

Why are rates increasing by 2%?

Recreation programming rates (excluding swimming lessons) are scheduled for an annual 2% increase for five years. This increase is to offset the projected annual increase in the cost to offer these programs and services while promoting participation, increased transparency and consistency, while being fair and equitable for all users.

What does the Parks and Recreation Fee Structure Review include?

The Fee Structure Review was a comprehensive examination of user fees in facilities, recreation centers, arenas (ice and dry floor), parks, sports fields (natural and all-weather turf), sports courts, ball diamonds, tracks, and pools, which are municipally owned and operated, as well as the arenas operated by Nustadia Recreation Inc. (HRM 4-pad, Bedford 4-pad on behalf of HRM. The fee review provided updated fees for facility rentals, registered programs, memberships, drop ins and vouchers.

What was the purpose of the Fee Structure Review?

To create a standardized recreation user fee structure that is based on the cost of providing a service with an appropriate subsidy. This promotes participation, increase transparency and consistency, while being fair and equitable for all users.

What were the reasons for the Fee Structure Review?
  • Recreation Fees were frozen with no increase between 2011 and 2022
  • There are currently fee inequities and inconsistencies
  • Some current fees don’t reflect costs
  • Some current fees are well below other organizations
  • No baseline from which subsidies are established
  • Current fees may be undercutting not for profit organizations
What will the implementation of this new Fee Structure allow Parks and Recreation to establish?
  • Consistent principles and criteria to base the administration of the fees
  • Fees that are more consistent, transparent, and equitable.
  • A model that provides a costing baseline to effectively apply subsidies
  • Fees that don’t compete or undercut not for profit organizations
  • Fees which are more aligned with the marketplace
How does the municipality fund its delivery of Parks and Recreation programs and services?

The municipality funds its service delivery through the general tax base and user charges, therefore, this new Fee Structure is aimed at balancing the costs to deliver the service, the fiscal responsibility to the taxpayer as well and ensuring affordability to the end user.

Do the changes to the fees pertain to Halifax Regional Centre for Education (HRCE) facilities and/or other partner facilities?
  • No, the new fees only apply to the municipally owned and operated facilities as well as the facilities operated by Nustadia Recreation (RBC 4-pad, Bedford 4-pad and LeBrun Arena) on behalf of the Halifax Regional Municipality.
  • User Fees for Halifax Regional Centre for Education (HRCE) and partner facilities such as Canada Games Center, Zatzman Sportsplex, Eastern Shore Arena etc. are set by the respective facility.
  • The relationship with partner facilities is governed by management agreements with each facility.
  • Some partner facilities may adopt HRM rates but are not required to do so. Under the HRCE Service Exchange Agreement, HRCE sets fees for school rentals annually.
Why are Parks and Recreation required to have an Administrative Order (AO) and By-law for fees?

Administrative Order - Respecting Recreation User Charges

This AO provides direction for staff to develop user charges, classify facilities and services, as well as providing direction for the fees to be maintained /updated moving forward. The AO also formalizes the Affordable Access Program and sets a process for this program and other discounts.

By-law U-106, Respecting the Amendment of By-law U-100,

The User Charges The proposed amendments set out in by-law U-106 expands by-law U-100 by adding two new schedules: one for recreation services (registered programs, memberships, drop ins and vouchers) and one for Recreation facilities (rentals). In adopting these new schedules, Regional Council has set the fees for these services as well as all applicable discounts. Any changes to fees will require Council approval to amend the schedules in the by-law.

What are the highlights of the Fee Structure Review / By-law and the Administrative Order?
  • All new rates took effect April 1, 2022.
  • All rates listed do not include HST.
  • Subsidization of facility rental user charges will only be considered for youth and community users.
  • There are no additional fees for lighting or electrical in parks, fields etc. Subsidization of facility rental user charges will only be considered for youth and community users.
What are the benefits to the public?

New User Categories - User categories are based on the age group or type of organization. I.e., youth, seniors, students, community groups and corporate.

  • youth mean a person up to and including 18 years
  • adult means a person 19 years to 59 years
  • senior means a person 60 years or older
  • Community means a non-profit co-op, society, or a Canadian registered charity
  • Corporate means a user who is renting on behalf of a for profit business
Consistent subsidization for fee categories For example, the fee structure will ensure that all youth programs across HRM will receive the same subsidy.

Reduced risk of unexpected fee increases - HRM’s costs to provide recreation services increase each year by 2% per year due to inflation. This increase will reduce the impact of unexpected and potentially significant fees increases that might be challenging for users to absorb and will also provide predictability to the users.

Predictable five-year review cycle There will be a requirement to undertake an updated analysis of all recreation fees on a five-year cycle. This will help ensure that the user charges continue to be appropriate to the services and relative costs.

More inclusive and affordable programming:

Affordable Access Program HRM will be better able to provide recreation to all residents regardless of their income. The Affordable Access program is a subsidy program that offers 50% or 100% discounts to recreation programs for families and individuals who are in financial need. This program eliminates financial barriers for families and individuals to participate in recreation programs. Discounts do not apply to drop-ins, vouchers, facility rentals, birthday parties, private swimming lessons or programs operated by third-party service providers.

Senior discount – Subsidy program for residents sixty years of age and older will receive a 25% discount for registered recreation programs.

Student discount – Subsidy program for students currently enrolled in high school or a post-secondary institution with a valid student identification will receive a 25% discount on membership fees.

Employee discount – Full time permanent and term employees of HRM and members of their immediate family living in the same household will receive a 25% discount on registered recreation programs and memberships. Part time, seasonal, temporary, casual employees during the course of their employment will receive a 25% discount for registered recreation programs and memberships.

Volunteer discount Volunteer fire fighters and Halifax Regional Police volunteers will receive a 25% discount for registered recreation programs and memberships

Overall standardization, consistency, and transparency in application of fees across the municipality. No user charge for Parks that are rented for public events that are open to the public, non-exclusive and free of charge.

Why are corporate fees higher than other categories?

Under the HRM Charter, HRM is not permitted to provide financial support to a business. Corporate rates reflect full cost recovery. Full cost recovery also applies to adult prime rates for ice and all-weather field rentals.