As reported by the CBC.......
The possibility of a nearly eight per cent hike in Manitoba Hydro rates could lead to thousands of dollars in extra expenses for hockey arenas and recreation complexes across Manitoba — costs that could be passed down to local taxpayers.
Manitoba's Public Utilities Board is reviewing a Manitoba Hydro interim rate increase from earlier in the year and a requested 7.9 per cent increase in April 2018.
Manning said the complex — which features an ice rink, curling rink, community hall and other amenities — is currently using about $59,000 in electricity per year. Combined with surcharges for peak-demand usage, Manning said it could cost another $10,000 per year to keep the electricity on if the rate increase is approved.
"We're already trying to do our best to try and manage what we have," he said, calling the proposed hike a "kick in the teeth."
Facility upgrades only go so far In Killarney — another town in southwestern Manitoba — even a small increase could affect the arena's bottom line.
"It has a significant impact on us," said Brian Lepoudre, recreation manager for the Municipality of Killarney-Turtle Mountain.
Lepoudre said his Killarney complex has tried to make changes to be energy efficient. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)
Lepoudre said the facility he manages, which houses the town's hockey and curling rinks, bowling alley, a fitness centre, and a large hall, has about $100,000 in utility costs per year. He too could be looking at trying to find another $10,000 in the budget if Manitoba Hydro's rates go up.
He said while the facility has made energy-efficient upgrades, like installing LED lights, there's only so much they can do.
Costs going up"Our costs are going to go up," he said. "We can only afford so much.… There becomes a limit of what we can afford."
Lepoudre said with no funding from the provincial or federal governments, added costs will fall to local governments.
He's banking on the facility hosting more and diverse events to help cover some of the costs, like the 2018 Manitoba Scotties Tournament of Hearts, which will be hosted in Killarney in January.
But he said a hike to user fees or cuts to programming could be on the table.
The Shamrock Centre in Killarney, Man., hosts many events throughout the year, but officials are hoping to book even more to help offset rising utility costs. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)
Manitoba Hydro has said it is facing "exceptional circumstances" due to mounting debt and needs annual increases of 7.9 per cent every year until 2023-24.
Some groups, like those representing First Nations and low-income Manitobans, have said the increase is too much, too fast.
"We have to start looking at some form of provincial grant or bursary," Manning said. "We're just not going to be able to keep up."
"Anything that they can give us as a way to facilitate the cost increase would be beneficial."
The Shamrock Centre in Killarney, Man., will play host to the 2018 Manitoba Scotties Tournament of Hearts in January. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)
Lepoudre said he'd like to see lots of notice given before any rates are hiked so boards and municipalities have plenty of time to budget.
"It's getting tougher and tougher to be able to cover the costs," said Lepoudre. "Our message is we're struggling already to keep our costs down. This is going to make it even more difficult."
With files from Kelly Malone and Radio Noon