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Yellowknifers redefine free running, costing City $50,000

A file photo published by the City of Yellowknife shows people using the Fieldhouse jogging track. (Nobody in the image is accused of any wrongdoing.)
A file photo published by the City of Yellowknife shows people using the fieldhouse jogging track prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The City of Yellowknife says it’s losing $50,000 per year to people who go jogging at the Fieldhouse for free.

In a briefing note prepared for councillors, the City says the building’s jogging track is accessed hundreds of times a year by people who don’t pay – even though you have to use a swipe card to get in.

According to the City, the second-floor access door to the track can’t be easily monitored despite the presence of a video camera. Staff are requesting council authorize spending just under $50,000 to build a new access door on the first floor, where people sneaking through are easier to spot and apprehend.

“The City has the ability to record the number of times the track is accessed by way of a virtual access line that is recorded through the security camera located above the door,” the briefing note, prepared by Grant White, the director of community services, explains.



“The access line records the frequency of access to the track and this is then compared to the recorded card swipes over a certain period of time.

“The average discrepancy in the number of card swipes compared to the number of actual times the track is accessed is 618 on an annual basis, which equates to an annual loss of revenue estimated at $50,517.”

‘Unpaid guests’

The City believes people usually get in without paying “when the door is held open by a legitimate user allowing non-paying guests to access the track.”

Councillors have already set aside $100,000 to fix the problem. The briefing note is a response to council’s request for specific options to eradicate the issue of people not paying.



“Installing a security gate at the lower part of the stairs as well as at the elevator is … cost-effective,” the note reads, adding the anticipated $47,600 of the new gates is “substantially less than the budget amount and requires no ongoing costs.”

“The proximity to the reception desk of both the stairs and elevator allows for easy supervision by existing staff located at the reception desk,” says the City, “which will decrease the likelihood of people continuing with the past practice of allowing unpaid guests on the track.”

On the face of it, the new gates would pay for themselves in a year if all $50,000 in missing revenue is recovered. However, it’s more likely some non-paying users would simply go elsewhere if security is tightened.

Staff say the Fieldhouse track is one of the most-used components of any City facility, with around 30,000 visits per year.

The track is open from 6:30am till 10pm daily from September 1 to May 31, and 6:30am till 9pm daily from June 1 to August 31. Adult entry fees start at $7.25, with an annual pass available for $584.

It’s not clear precisely how the City derives the figure of $50,517 for lost revenue in a given year. Taking the City’s figure of 618 more entries than card swipes, each of those 618 would have to pay $81.74 to reach the City’s estimate if lost revenue were based on sales alone.