Monday, October 11, 2010

Recreation & Town-Owned Lands

Below are my notes for the first prepared question at the Mayoral debate, hosted by the Fonthill Rotary Club on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at the Royal Canadian Legion.

Question 1)
What is your position with regard to the Town providing a Community Recreation Centre and, what is the current status of the Town owned lands at the corner of Hwy. 20 and Rice Road? Please comment citing specific budget considerations and time lines.

Who among us wouldn’t want the best for our community?

Who wouldn’t want a new Twin-Pad arena, a new Community Centre, a new indoor pool, and new outdoor fields?

But the question isn’t simply about being “for or against” a community centre.

The responsible questions are about what Pelham needs and about what we can afford.

It’s responsible to ask what recreational and cultural facilities do we need now; and, what will we need in the future.

It’s also responsible to ask “what can we afford?” What can we afford for land and construction costs now, and for operating costs into the future?

To responsibly answer these questions, Council established a process so we could make informed decisions.

First, this Council initiated a Facilities Feasibility Study, which studied all major Town facilities, and reported in 2008.
Then, Council established a working committee for recreational facilities with a mandate to:
o Determine the Town short and long term recreational needs;
o Refine Capital & Operating Costs;
o Test the business case for a community centre facility;

The Recreational Facilities Committee Final Report was to have been available by spring 2010, but now won’t be complete until November or December.

I believe the next step must be to facilitate significant and broad community consultation based on this final report.

With the data in the report, we can have an informed and open, community discussion so we can achieve a common vision about the future recreational and cultural needs for our Town.

Then, Council will be in a good position to make informed decisions in 2011.

RE: Town-Owned Property:
• Previous Council purchased the property in question for$3.6 million or average of $112,000 per acre in March 2005.
• And they ONLY paid interest.
• Paid for property as if parts were zoned commercial and as if had water and sewers -- but that was NOT the case.

Previous Council set to fix the zoning in April 2006, then stopped,
o gave control of planning process to development group in fall 2006.

• Started paying down principal -- we have paid down $1.1 M (have $2.5 M remaining)
• Established process to work with Developers to finish planning -- first draft plan is currently with Town for comment;
• This East Fonthill Secondary Plan Process should be complete in 2011.

Only once Secondary Plan process complete will the property be "unlocked" and can any development on the Town-Owned property be allowed to proceed.