At the Jan.7th Council in Committee meeting, members of MV Council heard from Infrastructure Ontario regarding financing the Paul J. Yakabuski Community Centre (PJYCC) rehabilitation project. The options included short-term construction loan, line of credit facility and long-term debenture of up to 30 years. The presentation came about after MV’s Treasurer, Amanda Hudder, had advised Council last December that the taxation impact of borrowing at least $1.5 million on a 25 or 30 year debenture could be an increase of 2.5 percent on ratepayers’ tax bills.
Council also reviewed the 24 communications from area residents who asked for their opinions to be taken into consideration. Of these, 12 letters could be described as coming from people with “vested interests” in continued use of the ice surface; five writers were involved with the Barry’s Bay and Area Minor Hockey Association, Bay Blades Sledge Hockey, and the Barry’s Bay Skating Club 2020-21. Only one writer was vehemently opposed to replacing the ice slab, although several more wanted expanded use of the building including seven letters from people who wanted to see more year-round recreational and fitness facilities. Some mentioned the needs of area seniors, along with the economic benefits of activities that bring visitors and attract young professionals and their families to relocate here.
What stands out is that MV Council received just 24 letters — representing 22 out of 3,205 households in MV. Even allowing for the organizations mentioned by correspondents and the fact that many (young) people skate in two or more organizations, the “public input” so far represents possibly up to 150 persons out of a population of around 4,100. At least seven said that Council should get more public input before making a decision.
Pointing out that the present Covid-related shutdown prevents a public meeting, Mayor Kim Love said, “We did call for the public input. We did get some public input.”
Council then deferred a final decision on the project until after the upcoming conferences of the Ontario Good Roads Association and the Rural Ontario Municipalities of Ontario in case new funding announcements were made. In the meantime it directed staff to prepare a staged tender for approval.
The ice surface came up for discussion again on Jan.19, this time to consider the cost of maintaining unused ice during the present shutdown. Only Councillor Ernie Peplinski voted against removing the ice immediately.
This discussion prompted Councillor David Shulist to suggest that Council consider selling the substantial undeveloped property the municipality owns near the Bark Lake dam. He said, “I brought this to the table at the start of this term and … even when I was mayor, and I never got any response to it. I think now the timing could be perfect. We have a piece of property at the Bark Lake dam…. Nobody has come to the table to say that there is a need for this land…. I will bring the motion at some point and then there’s going to be some action. [It] would read … deem the land at Bark Lake Dam surplus and that the money from the sale goes directly to the ice surface project.”
Surprisingly, the ensuing discussion revealed that the municipality is not in a position to immediately identify all the land it owns. Eventually CAO Suzanne Klatt said that staff could produce a simple list of all municipally-owned properties by next month, although further research would be required to determine why MV had acquired each of them before Council could determine which lands could be deemed surplus. Mayor Love and Klatt suggested that Council undertake this review on a municipality-wide basis (not merely to fund recreation) and determine potential costs of valuation and marketing.
Apparently municipally-owned lands are not included in its Asset Management Plan documents.
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose
On the subject of the arena, Barry’s Bay native Joshua Blank recently sent The Current a 1982 article from the Ottawa Citizen (below) suggesting that it “appears to bookend difficulties at the arena both at the start and (possibly) end of its life.” We contacted the author of the original piece, Ish Theilheimer, who said about the PJYCC, “No easy answers. Nothing can really pay the bills. MV so badly needs a community centre. There is no community space in town other than at the arena and that one, as you know, is so limited.”