Free Admission Day in Edmonton could be replaced with new program

Click to play video 'City of Edmonton debates changing Free Admission Day' City of Edmonton debates changing Free Admission Day
WATCH ABOVE: Edmonton's annual "Free Admission Day" could soon be no more. As Nicole Stillger explains, an alternative program is now being looked at by council, but it's still up in the air on whether it would be just as popular – Jan 29, 2020

The City of Edmonton is considering replacing Free Admission Day with a new program.

Dubbed Live Active Day, it’s meant to encourage people to live an active lifestyle.

The new initiative will include different sport and fitness activities at low to no cost at participating city facilities — focusing on rec centres, parks and other amenities.

The proposed change, however, would take major attractions off the table.

Since 2006, people have taken advantage on the last Sunday in September, to get in free at select city attractions and rec centres.

Last year, those attractions included the Edmonton Valley Zoo and the John Janzen Nature Centre.

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A city report said Free Admission Day attendance peaked in 2016 and 2017 with about 50,000 visits. It noted the weather cooperated those years and all major points of interest were open.

In 2019, attendance was just over 20,000 people, but Fort Edmonton Park and the Muttart Conservatory were closed for renovations.

“There are people who wait all year just to go to Free Admission Day and don’t end up being return customers,” Ward 5 Councillor Sarah Hamilton said.

Between expenses and lost revenue, the report said the net cost of Free Admission Day is roughly $60,000.

“There is a way to align that spending I think, with more of our strategic goals including a healthy city,” she said.

Hamilton also noted free admission puts a lot of pressure on city attractions.

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“You’re working in attractions and recreation — that’s all hands on deck, so you can’t even borrow staff,” she said.

Hamilton said she’s “excited” about the new program.

“It allows people to experience Live Active Day much closer to home,” she said.

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“There are a lot of opportunities for collaboration and ways for Edmontonians to experience their communities in a different way.”

More details are expected later this year.

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