FAQs

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.

Listed below are the questions; please click on them, which will then jump the page down to that specific question and the response.

If, by chance, you can not find the answer to a question that you are seeking below, please email us with your question and we will email you back with the answer.

Questions

What is a two-tier system?
Why are you doing this two-tiered system?
What is the start date?
What is the Access Card?
Where do I pick up an Access Card?
How do I ensure I pay the contributing area resident's discounted fee?
What are the two tier program rates?
If I am a non-resident, can I still use the facility?
If I am a non-resident, can I still attend drop-in programs there?
If I am a non-resident, can I still attend registerable programs there?
Which areas are considered contributing members and which areas are not?
How do you determine who is a resident?
What do I need to bring to prove I am a resident?
How do I become a tax paying contributor and get the no-fee Access Card?
For how long is an Access Card valid?
Does my Access Card expire and need to be renewed?
Are there any exceptions from the two-tier payment system?
Are there any areas that are exempted from the two-tier payment system?
Even as a resident of a contributing area, I find the fees to be very high at this new centre compared to the Aquannis Pool. I don’t think I can afford to come.
Are there other sport and recreation facilities in the core area that non-contributing areas are using but not paying for?
Are you going to two-tier the rest of these facilities?
Situational Questions - Click to be taken to situations and how payments are determined.

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.

Why are you doing this two-tiered system?

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.

Now, in 2014, the system was modified once more to include the Town of Lake Cowichan as well.

What is the start date?

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).

What is the Access Card?

An Access Card is a type of membership card that you use at the Cowichan Aquatic Centre in a few ways.

  1. Once you have provided valid identification, this Access Card is your proof that you are a resident of a contributing area or have paid the Access Card fee for the current year. As a result you are entitled to the reduced admission rates and can register for programs.

  2. The Access Card is also issued to everyone who currently, or in the future, purchases either a facility pass or 10 trip accesses to the facility. Your pass or 10 tickets are ‘loaded’ onto the card and then accounted for as you scan your entry into the aquatic centre.

Where do I pick up an Access Card?

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

How do I ensure I pay the resident’s discounted fee?

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.

What are the two-tier program rates?

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 I am a non-resident, can I still use the facility?

Yes.

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”.

If I am a non-resident, can I still attend drop-in programs there?

Yes.

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".

If I am a non-resident, can I still attend registerable programs there?

Yes.

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:

Individual $200.00 per calendar year

Family $350.00 per calendar year

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.

Which areas are considered contributing members and which areas are not?

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.

Most areas of the CVRD are now contributing members with the exception of Area F and Area I.

Non-contributing areas include:

  • CVRD Electoral Area ‘F’ – Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls; and
  • CVRD Electoral Area ‘I’ – Youbou/ Meade Creek.

Areas that are to be exempt from purchasing an Access Card are:

  • Town of Ladysmith Residents;
  • CVRD Electoral Area ‘G’ - Saltair/Thetis/Kuper/Valdes Islands;
  • CVRD Electoral Area ‘H’ - North Oyster/Diamond

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.

Map of the region

How do you determine who is a resident?

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:

  • You currently live or reside in one of the contributing areas, or
  • You personally own property within the boundaries of one of the contributing areas, or
  • You co-own property within the boundaries of one of the contributing areas and are the sole owner that is going to request an Access Card.
  • You reside outside of the CVRD boundaries.

What do I need to bring to prove I am a resident?

Various forms of proof of residency are accepted.

One piece of photo ID with current address on it, like:

  • Current BC Driver’s License
  • Valid passport
  • BC Identification Card issued by the Motor Vehicle Branch
  • Cowichan Tribes Status Card (code 642)

OR

One piece of photo ID without address and a second piece of ID with current address on it, such as:

  • Owner’s Certificate of Insurance and Vehicle License issued by ICBC
  • Local government tax notice
  • Utility/Gas/hydro/telephone bill
  • BC Voter Registration Card

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:

  • Be issued an Access Card
  • Register for programs

The Access Card will allow for efficient and convenient use of the facility.

How do I become a tax paying contributor and get a no-fee access card?

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.

CVRD contact page for Directors

For how long is an Access Card valid?

An Access Card is valid from the date of purchase until December 31 of that year. For example:

  1. If you purchase an Access Card on Jan 1, 2014 it will expire on Dec 31, 2014.
  2. If you purchase an Access Card on May 23, 2014 it will expire on Dec 31, 2014.

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.

Does my access card expire and need to be renewed?

Yes.

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).

Are there any exceptions from the two-tier payment system?

Yes.

The following services will be granted an exception from requiring an Access Card:

  1. Community Organizations holding competitions (e.g. swim meet, water polo competition, etc.).
  2. School rentals.
  3. Attendees to one-time rentals, where the rental agreement is arranged and purchased through an Access Card holder.

Are there any areas that are exempted from the two-tier payment system?

Yes.

Specific areas have been exempted from purchasing an Access Card which are residents of:

  • The Town of Ladysmith;
  • CVRD Electoral Area ‘G’ - Saltair/Thetis/Kuper/Valdes Islands; and
  • CVRD Electoral Area ‘H’ - North Oyster/Diamond.

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.

Even as a resident of a contributing area, I find the fees to be very high at this new centre compared to the Aquannis Pool. I don’t think I can afford to come.

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.

Are there other sport and recreation facilities in the core area that non-contributing areas are using but not paying for?

Yes.

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:

  • Chemainus Ball Park
  • Crofton Ball Park
  • Crofton Seasonal Outdoor Pool
  • Pioneer Park Fields
  • Properties Park Fields
  • Sherman Road Park
  • MacAdam Park

Are you going to two-tier the rest of these facilities?

There are no plans to do so at this time.

Situational Questions

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.

If you don't see the question that you have posed below, please email us so that we can respond to you and post it on this web page.

If I reside in a contributing area and my child is holding a birthday party at the Aquatic Centre and attendees are from both the contributing and non-contributing areas, what do I do?

If I reside in a non-contributing area and my child wants to hold a birthday party at the Aquatic Centre and attendees are from both the contributing and non-contributing areas, what rate will I pay?

My two (2) sons belong to the Amateur Swim Club and my daughter belongs to the Synchronized Swimming Club and we reside in a non-contributing area. What do we pay to belong to these respective clubs?

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?

I want to register my daughter for swimming lessons and I live in Lake Cowichan. Do I need to obtain an Access Card or does my daughter?

If I reside in a contributing area and my child is holding a birthday party at the Aquatic Centre and attendees are from both the contributing and non-contributing areas, what do I do?

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.

If I reside in a non-contributing area and my child wants to hold a birthday party at the Aquatic Centre and attendees are from both the contributing and non-contributing areas, what rate will I pay?

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.

My two sons belong to the Amateur Swim Club and my daughter belongs to the Synchronized Swimming Club and we reside in a non-contributing area. What do we pay to belong to these respective clubs?

Community organizations/groups (e.g. 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:

  • Name
  • Street address of primary residence
  • Telephone number
  • Photocopy of their Access Card

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.

The swim team season goes from September to May. Does that mean I will have to pay for an access pass to December 31, then buy an additional access card for January to December of the following year?

Yes.

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).

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?

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.

I want to register my daughter for learn to swim lessons and I live in Lake Cowichan. Do I need to obtain an Access Card or does my daughter?

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;

OR

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.