‘Drastic’ rental hikes could backfire in Stettler

Regarding last week’s story, “Stettler hall rates rise in effort to cut deficit,” we believe the move will only cut ties and revenues.

Dear Editor:

Regarding last week’s story, “Stettler hall rates rise in effort to cut deficit,” we believe the move will only cut ties and revenues.

As both my fiancé and I are Stettler natives no longer living in the area, we had a lengthy conversation about when and where to hold our wedding dance. We decided that for convenience and cost-saving reasons, we would hold it in our beloved hometown.

We made our initial booking on Feb. 11, 2012, for the event to take place on May 25, 2013, and were quoted $455 plus tax for use of the facilities (lower than usual because we would not be requiring use of the kitchen). We were also informed that should we want access to the hall earlier for decorating, it would only cost us an additional $50 a day. We paid our $150 deposit, and thought nothing of it.

After a brief, albeit frustrating experience, in which we were informed by other Stettler residents that the hall was not ours for that day, we received confirmation that the double-booking was the Parks and Leisure Services’ oversight, and that the hall was most definitely ours. Crisis averted.

That was until I received a letter on Feb. 27, 2013, informing me that the rates have increased, therefore more than doubling what we were quoted. The hall booking jumped from $325 to $950; prior day for decoration jumped from $50 to $250. Upon reading the letter and crunching the numbers, I was understandably upset. For the price that we are now being forced to pay, despite having signed the contract over a year ago, we could have rented a facility closer to where we live, and that could accommodate more people.

Many others who have received the same letter have been in touch with me, and we are all in agreement that while we understand why rate increases are necessary, those that have already booked and budgeted the previous quotes should be an exception to the new rule, and the town should honor their original agreement.

I personally feel that if the town council and the Parks and Leisure Services office follow through with their threat of increasing the rates so drastically, they will find themselves with plenty of empty time slots to fill, and loyal, local residents spending their money elsewhere.

Unfortunately for us, it is a bit too late … as it will be almost impossible to find another venue only two months prior to our wedding date. I urge other Stettler residents, not just those who are directly affected, to write the town council and Parks and Leisure services to voice their concern, and to hopefully prevent other residents’ hands from being forced with no options left.

Marci Ackerman,

Fort Saskatchewan

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