Gold Coast PTs should pay fees to use parks

I noticed in the Gold Coast Bulletin that personal trainers on the GC are outraged the Council will start imposing an annual $200 fee for them to use parks, consistent with councils in Brisbane and elsewhere. It makes sense for councils to charge GC PTs who are gaining commercial advantage from using parks because they don’t have to pay rent for the space. Indeed, it might even make sense for the Council to charge even more than $200, depending on how much the PT uses the park.

Councils and other agencies should investigate whether there should be a wider application of user charges for parks, beaches and other recreation areas. These areas can be costly to maintain and have an opportunity cost as well, because the land could be otherwise sold and possibly developed. It is sound economics to recover some of these costs, where feasible, noting of course that some cost recovery may be uneconomic (i.e. it wouldn’t make sense to have someone collecting fees at every council park).

On user charges for recreation areas, my friend and fellow economist Boyd Blackwell, a former lifesaver who grew up on the Sunshine Coast, once courageously suggested Councils should consider charging for beach access because it would help pay for additional lifeguard services that people value. Here’s a link to the Radio National story from 2000:

Australians happy to pay beaches fees

If I recall correctly, this was based on a Conference of Economists paper I may have co-authored.

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4 Responses to Gold Coast PTs should pay fees to use parks

  1. Katrina Drake says:

    I believe it is fair that PT pay a reasonable fee to use public facilities. PT are gaining a commercial benefit after all, and are being provided with well maintained facilities. Charging a fee also provides the council with more controls over what areas PT groups can lease, and what facilities they are able to use. The money earnt could also provide exercise stations and equipment. No doubt if one of the trainers or trainees are injured in the park they would generate an insurance claim against the council. Personal Training in parks should certainly be encouraged, as Queenslanders certainly need the exercise, monthly gym fees are are major deterent.

    As for other more general charges for parks and recreational areas, I do not support entry fees to parks. Councils already charge fees by having paid parking at the major parks , eg Roma Street, City Botanic Gardens. I usually have a daily jog through Roma Street or Mt Cootha garden, and it fills my heart with joy, the gardens are so magnificent, and all free. It really makes me feel like my rates and taxes are being put to good use. You should try it !

    • Gene Tunny says:

      Thanks for the comment Katrina. Good point about possible insurance claim. I used to jog a lot along the river but I’ve been too busy/lazy lately. You may have inspired me to start jogging again.

  2. Katrina Drake says:

    I certainly recommend a daily brisk walk through Roma Street Park lands for you – no crowds – no bikes – no traffic – it is wonderful to get some pleasure from your rates. Sounds like you need a Jawbone from Santa.

  3. Tim Hughes says:

    I totally agree that PTs should pay an annual fee for using public parks – $200 is a fair figure. I also suggest that there is an extra fee for wearing Lycra, bad haircuts and overuse of Burpees.

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