Beerwah gym owner Taz Calandruccio is not happy with a price hike in council charges.
Beerwah gym owner Taz Calandruccio is not happy with a price hike in council charges. Warren Lynam

700% council fee hike leaves businesses feeling the burn

A SUNSHINE Coast gym owner is fighting council's "money grab" after his annual outdoor bootcamp fee skyrocketed from $99 to $810.

All In One Fitness owner Taz Calandruccio is among the personal trainers, gym owners, coffee van and food truck vendors now required to pay $27 per square metre for "low impact" commercial operations on shared public space.

Previously, operations up to 24 hours per week on ratepayer land required an annual $99 commercial land use permit.

But a council spokesperson said "significant" increase in demand over recent years warranted business owners pay an "equivalent rental charge" to high-impact users' $95/sq m for up to 84 hours per week.

Mr Calandruccio had run weekly bootcamps on 30sq m of Skippy Park, Landsborough for seven months of the year, but said the now "unsustainable" cost would restrict him to inside his Beerwah and Glasshouse gyms.

He launched a petition against the change after council notified it was adopted in the 2018-19 budget.

The gym owner of 13 years said the price hike would impact his business, other small operators and the community who relied on outdoor fitness activities for their health and social wellbeing.

He has recruited Fitness Australia and Glasshouse Country Chamber of Commerce president Ursula Starkovsky to engage with council to find an alternative.

Mr Calanduccio believes the latest increase was "nothing more than a money grab" and said most who ran outdoor bootcamps were personal trainers doing their required hours to become qualified.

"When you whack them with an $800 bill, and they haven't got an income, that's going to impact industry," he said.

"That's why I contacted Fitness Australia."

He believes a better approach would be to fine people who don't have permits, rather than "punish those doing the right thing".

Ms Starkovsky said she was yet to receive a response after she sought an explanation from council's community response manager Sheryl Krome on June 26.

"Obesity is a huge problem for Australia with skyrocketing costs year after year," she wrote in part.

"One way to combat this problem is fitness and fitness outside in the fresh air would have to be superior to exercise inside a building.

"We are not arguing the Fitness Permit charge, we are arguing that your proposed increase in price is not substantiated and will lead to outdoor fitness classes being cancelled throughout the area."

A council spokesperson said it was council's responsibility to "provide everyone with fair and equitable access to shared public spaces", and a permit holder who uses less space would pay a smaller fee.

They said all permit holders were notified of the changes.

To find Mr Calanduccio's petition, search for "Avaaz Fitness Permit Price Increase petition".