NCC to hike fees for local events

One Ottawa charity says its services will be threatened by a National Capital Commission plan to hike fees by January 2013.

Charities concerned higher costs for road and park usage to hurt bottom line

One Ottawa charity says its services will be threatened by a National Capital Commission plan to hike fees by January 2013.

The NCC has charged charities $700 plus HST for events that require the exclusive use of its roads such as the Queen Elizabeth Driveway, Colonel By Drive and Ottawa River Parkway.

NCC event permit fee structure
2011 2012 2013
Urban parkways (exclusive use) + HST $700 $1,000 $1.400
Wedding ceremonies (Rockcliffe Park, Mackenzie King Estate) for 3 hours 300 400 400

But the NCC sent a letter to various groups in mid-August informing them about a increase in fees for event permits following a review.

The new rates will start to change January 1, 2012 where charities will be charged $1,000 for using urban parkways and that will increase to $1,400 starting in 2013.

The costs for using parks will also jump as will the price for holding weddings in Gatineau Park and the Rockcliffe Park pavilion.

Officials at REACH Canada, which has helped people with disabilities find legal advice, educational opportunities and housing for the past 30 years, fear the hit to their bottom line.

"Our understanding is there's going to be a huge increase to us to use the NCC parkways, which is Queen Elizabeth drive particularly," said Manny Agulnik, director of the charity's annual Run for Reach.

The event is, like many charity runs and bike races in the national capital region, an essential part of fundraising. The Terry Fox Run and Run for the Cure are two other popular events that raise money for cancer research and take place on NCC roads.

The NCC is prepared to increase costs for renting its roads and pathways. Some charities are concerned this will hurt their bottom line. (Google Streetview)

Fees unchanged since 1997

But the NCC argues fees have remained static since 1997 while costs have gone up. The organization said it thinks its rates were so low the local market for road rental costs have been distorted.

That has also resulted in a jump in requests for road and park events.

"The NCC has seen a marked increase in the number of permits being given for events, some 52 per cent in the last few years," said NCC spokesman Jean Wolff.

Wolff added the charges are half the price of rates charged by commercial businesses and someone has to pay that difference.

But Agulnik said the NCC needs to consider the costs on charities and non-profit groups are much more difficult to pay, which will cut into money raised.

"We're a non-profit and obviously, any dollars that we have to put out in expenses comes out of the bottom line that we need to see for the organization to continue," said Agulnik.