Two Tier Frequently Asked Questions
What we have attempted to do is to provide to you the answers to as many potential questions that residents of both contributing and non-contributing areas may have of the two-tier payment system as possible.
What is a two-tier system?
A two-tier system is a payment system that charges a different usage rate to those who pay toward facility costs through local taxes, versus those who do not pay for the facility through local taxes.
For the Cowichan Aquatic Centre, we are implementing a two-tier system on the basis that some local governments contribute to the capital,operational and debt costs of the aquatic centre through taxation,while other local governments do not.
The motivation for the two-tiered system is fairness. The reality is that the users of the Cowichan Aquatic Centre (CAC) come from throughout the region, not exclusively the Municipality of North Cowichan (MNC), the City of Duncan (COD), or the Cowichan Tribes (CT). In fact, about 30% of users are from other areas. However, the taxpayers of these areas are the only three local governments that pay towards the operating,debt and capital expenses for the facility through their annual municipal taxes. Those living in other areas are not contributing tot he payment of these costs through their taxes. If those people paying these taxes and those people not paying these taxes were charged the same admission rates it would not be fair. It would mean that North Cowichan, Duncan and Cowichan Tribes are subsidizing all other users,which is not acceptable.
As a result, the two-tier payment system, as recommended by both councils, is being implemented for the Cowichan Aquatic Centre, as of January 1, 2009, and will include any programs and services that extend into 2009.
This was slightly modified on September 1, 2010, North Cowichan Council voted in favour of reducing Cowichan Aquatic Centre fees to visitors living outside the boundaries of the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD). Effective immediately, visitors will enjoy the same reduced admission, program and facility rental fees and opportunities as the three partner jurisdictions (North Cowichan, Duncan and Cowichan Tribes), Ladysmith and CVRD Electoral Areas “G” and “H”.
The system was again modified on December 17, 2012, when the participants in Kerry Park Recreation (Cobble Hill, Shawnigan Lake, Mill Bay and Cowichan Bay) became funding partners for the Cowichan Aquatic Centre as well.
The official start date for the two-tier payment system will be January 1, 2009. However, Access Cards will be available effective November 17, 2008, including residents of non-contributory areas wishing to pay for their Access Cards in advance of January 1, 2009 (card will still be valid until December 31, 2008).
An Access Card is a type of membership card that you use at the Cowichan Aquatic Centre in a few ways.
Access Cards are available through the front desk of the Cowichan Aquatic Centre, during our normal operating hours which are as follows:
Monday through Friday - 6:00am to 9:30pm
Saturday - 7:30am to 9:30pm
Sunday - 11:00am to 6:00pm
Statutory Holidays - Closed
Obtain an Access Card the next time you are at the Cowichan Aquatic Centre or provide proof of residency when you are paying for services at the front reception.
So, if you are a resident of a contributing area, you can either provide proof of residency each time you use the facility, or alternatively use an Access Card which will be marked for easy and quick identification.
For registerable programs (learn to swim lessons, courses, etc) there isn’t a two-tier fee system. Instead, all persons will need to have either a valid Access Card or supply proof of residency in a contributing area in advance of registering.
Persons who reside in a non-contributing area will be unable to register for a program until they have purchased an Access Card.
Persons who reside in a contributing area can register once they provide to our reception staff either their Access Card or valid proof of residency.
If you do not purchase an access card you will pay the posted admission rates for “Resident of Non-Contributing Area”. If you choose to purchase an Access Card, you will pay the “Resident Discounted Rate”.
Drop-in programs are considered part of our drop-in admissions grouping, If you do not purchase an Access Card you will need to pay the posted admission rates for “Resident of Non-Contributing Area”. If you choose to purchase an Access Card, you will pay the “Resident Discounted Rate”.
If you reside outside of the CVRD, then you just need to provide proof of your residency and you will pay the "Resident Discounted Rate".
However,in advance of signing up for program(s), you will need to purchase an Access Card if you live in a non-contributing area in the CVRD. If you do not live in the CVRD, then you can register for programs like a contributing resident. The fees for an Access Card are as follows:
For your information to be eligible for a ‘family’ versus ‘individual” Access Card, a family is defined as follows:
Consists of persons related through marriage or common law, blood relationship,legal adoption or legal guardianship living within the same household.
The original funding partners for this facility are the Municipality of North Cowichan and the City of Duncan. Cowichan Tribes indicated their commitment to be a funding partner as well during the facility’s Grand Opening.
The other regional government jurisdictions were, and continue to be, invited to be partners in this facility, but to date have not.
Non-contributing areas include:
Areas that are to be exempt from purchasing an Access Card are:
These specific areas are being exempted from the two-tier payment system as they are already contributing directly to the operation of an Aquatic Centre.
For a map of the region, please click here.
We determine residency based on the same general rationale that the Provincial Government uses for determining who can vote in municipal elections, which is as follows:
Various forms of proof of residency are accepted.
One piece of photo ID with current address on it, like:
One piece of photo ID without address and a second piece of ID with current address on it, such as:
In the situation where you are a resident in a non-contributing area, but own property within a contributing area, you will need to bring, in addition to the information specified above, proof of ownership of the property. This proof can be either a municipal utility bill, municipal taxation notice or, if available, a non-resident electoral certificate.
In the case of children or youth, we will be requesting that they are present with their parent or guardian on their initial visit so that we can issue them an Access Card with their residency identification on it.
So,whether you live within the boundaries of the Municipality of North Cowichan, the City of Duncan, or the Cowichan Tribes or outside of those boundaries, we will be requesting proof of residency so that you can:
The Access Card will allow for efficient and convenient use of the facility.
This is not a choice that can be made by an individual. Each different Municipality, Town or Electoral area would need to make that decision as a whole. This can be accomplished through an Alternate Approval Process or Referendum.
The best person to speak to in this regard is your local elected official. Please click here to be taken to the CVRD's contact page for their Directors.
An Access Card is valid from the date of purchase until December 31 of that year. For example:
The cost for the Access Card is the same throughout the year. If you purchase it on January 1 the cost is $200 for an individual and $350 for a family. This is the same price that will be paid if you purchase it on May 23 or any other date.
An access card is valid from January 1 to December 31 of any given year and must be renewed in each calendar year (starting January 1 of that year).
The following services will be granted an exception from requiring an Access Card:
Specific areas have been exempted from purchasing an Access Card which are residents of:
These specific areas are being exempted from the two-tier payment system as they are already contributing directly, through their taxation system,to the operation of an Aquatic Centre (Frank Jamieson Community Centre in Ladysmith) within the Cowichan Valley Regional District.
Additionally, all areas outside of the boundaries of the CVRD have been exempted as well as they will never be considered for taxation purposes for services provided within the CVRD.
The Cowichan Aquatic Centre is a facility that is a significantly larger aquatic and fitness venue offering a wider variety of and easier access to programs and services than what was offered through the Aquannis Centre. This also means the costs associated with it are higher. The capital, debt and operating costs are paid through two sources only: taxation and entry fees. So, if we lower the entry fees, your level of taxes will grow.
Further, we compared our entry fees to a number of other similar facilities, including Victoria, Courtenay/Comox, Coquitlam, Richmond and Nanaimo facilities and ours are about the same as theirs. An interesting note, the Rainbow Road Pool on Salt Spring Island, which is similar to the Aquannis Centre in size, has rates very similar to the Cowichan Aquatic Centre.
If you are a resident of a contributing area, you can make application to the Municipality of North Cowichan for financial assistance through our Leisure Access Program (LAP). More information is available through the front reception of the Cowichan Aquatic Centre or online at www.northcowichan.ca.
This service is ONLY available to residents from contributing areas for the Cowichan Aquatic Centre.
The only facility that is currently being affected by the two-tier system is the Cowichan Aquatic Centre. However, for your reference, here is the list of additional recreational facilities that are currently funded solely by the Municipality of North Cowichan or the City of Duncan (or a combination thereof), are used by people from throughout the Cowichan region, but do not have a two-tier fee system in place:
There are no plans to do so at this time.
We have listed below a variety of situations where persons will be inquiring about how we will process/handle the two tier system. Please click on a question below to be taken to the answer.
The swim team season goes from September to May. Does that mean I will have to pay for an access pass to December 31st, then buy an additional access card for January to December of the following year?
I live in a non-contributing area. My grandchildren visit me for a couple of weeks every summer and we would love to come to the new centre. Do I need to buy an access card?
For birthday parties we will be determining the price solely based on the person who is booking and paying for the party. We will not be evaluating where the children attending the party are from.
So a person with an Access Card or valid proof of residency will pay a lower fee than a person without.
As noted above, for birthday parties we will be determining the price solely based on the person who is booking and paying for the party. We will not be evaluating where the children attending are from.
So, for a person who does not have an Access Card or valid proof of residency, they will pay a higher fee than a person without.
Community organizations/groups (i.e. Synchro, Swim Club, Waterpolo, etc.) utilizing the Cowichan Aquatic Centre for their continued practices must submit a membership list which contains the following information for each and every one of their members:
All “Non-contributing Area” residents will be required to hold a valid Access Card prior to being permitted entry into the program and/or the Cowichan Aquatic Centre.
So, in this circumstance you would acquire a Family Access Card at no cost if you are a resident in a contributing area. Residents from non-contributing areas would purchase a $350 Family Access card in each calendar year.
Beyond acquiring and providing proof of an Access Card, you will be responsible, as always, for any fees assessed to you by the club your children belong to.
Access Cards are only valid in the calendar year that they are purchased. So if the organization that you belong to goes over two separate years then you will need to purchase a card in each of the years.
For example, water polo runs from September 2009 through to April 2010. As a result, players, whether they are a resident or not, will need to provide proof of having an Access Card or valid proof of residency for 2009 (playing from September to December), and again for 2010 (January through April).
If you are going to be a short-term/infrequent user of the aquatic centre it is likely most economical for you to pay the higher non-resident usage rate and not purchase the Access Card.
Please be aware though, that in order for your grandchildren to register for programs they will need to have a valid Access Card if they live in the CVRD. If they reside outside of those boundaries we just require proof of where they reside and they can register for our programs.
The person who needs the Access Card is the individual who will actually be participating in the program, not the person registering for the program.
So in this case, you have two options to take:
First, you could purchase an Individual Access Card for your daughter for $200 which would allow her to register for swimming lessons and other programs;
Second, you could purchase a Family Access Card for $350 which would allow her to register for lessons, while at the same time allow you and the rest of your family to gain access to discounted admission rates and register for programs.