Meaford councillors considered an invitation to have a representative join the Regional Recreation Centre Steering Committee for the construction of the new athletic and recreational complex in Owen Sound.
The $32.6 million facility which will include an Olympic sized swimming pool, a fitness centre and a pair of ice surfaces, has received infrastructure grant funding of nearly $22 million.
The township of Georgian Bluffs has recently appointed a member of their council, Ryan Thompson, to the steering committee, and in a letter from Jim McManaman, Chair of the committee, an invitation has been extended to the municipality of Meaford to participate in the committee as well.In addition to having representation on the steering committee, Georgian Bluffs has also committed to support the project financially, something that Meaford has been reluctant to do given their current financial difficulties.
The topic stirred debate around the council table about whether or not Meaford should participate in the steering committee, but quickly morphed into a debate about whether the municipality should or could contribute financially.
Councillor Jim McPherson expressed concern about making a financial contribution to the project without ensuring that all residents of Meaford would be able to access the facility.
“For me to vote to support it financially there would need to be some sort of public transportation to get people to the facility,” said McPherson, “That is important for those in our community who do not have the means to get to Owen Sound.”
Deputy Mayor Michael Traynor suggested that though Meaford might not be able to contribute financially, there may be other ways that the municipality could support the project.
The inability of Meaford to contribute financially was also a problem for Councillor Harley Greenfield.
“I see no way for at least five years that we could be involved,” said Greenfield, “After five years when our finances are rectified, perhaps we could get involved.”
Greenfield went on to ask, “When is this council going to say 'enough is enough, we just can't afford it'?”
Councillor Cynthia Lemon reminded her fellow councillors that the letter was asking if Meaford was interested in having representation on the steering committee, and was not seeking a financial commitment.
“I don't see an invoice attached to the invitation,” said Lemon.
“I think that we have a responsibility to accept the invitation to have representation,” Lemon advised, “You can't do anything when you are outside of the tent. I think it would be wise to have someone there.”
After extensive discussion council decided to invite a delegation from the steering committee to make a presentation to council at a future meeting before making a decision on whether to seek representation on the committee.
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