Big crowd for big decision.
Scott Buffam, in the black shirt, thinks about a remark made by council during Monday night's meeting. Buffam chairs the Renfrew second ice pad committee that was among members of the public who heard council's decision not to proceed with construction of a second ice pad and pool.
Lucy Hass, Renfrew Mercury
The audience offered lukewarm applause following town council’s 5-2 vote Monday night to reject expansion of Ma-Te-Way Park.
Only three times Monday night did applause come from the crowd of about 80 people, as council decided if it would continue to back a swimming pool and second ice pad.
The only applause for council members’ comments was reserved for Coun. Andrew Evans and Mayor Bill Ringrose, the only two to support the motion for expansion.
Outside the council chambers, residents stood around talking about the decision Monday night.
Everyone The Renfrew Mercury spoke to expressed disappointment with the decision after a campaign that sent an estimated 400 letters to council. Most were in favour of the project, said town clerk Kim Bulmer.
Renfrew businessman and resident Jim Deslaurier said he wasn’t surprised by the decision, but felt council wasn’t creative enough to find a solution to financially support the project.
“It’s been evident all the way through that it would be a hard issue to push through,” said Deslaurier.
“They’re not exploring realistic ways to be creative with financing,” added Deslaurier, figuring there was more money to be had from neighbouring municipalities and from local coffers while the facility was being built.
“I don’t think they have the desire to explore an efficient way to cover the cost. That would be my statement.”
Jeff Taylor, another local resident and businessman, was “very disappointed and kind of lost for words” by council’s decision.
“Everyone is complaining about kids on the street, and they won’t give the kids any recreation facilities, or a chance to do anything here,” said Taylor.
“And not only kids. I own a swimsuit store, which would obviously benefit me (if there was a pool), but I’ve been in favour of this pool long before I had this business. Since I’ve had this business, I’ve seen there are people who want to swim, but they’re leaving town to swim.”
Jim Millar of the second ice pad committee said he felt council didn’t look at the big picture.
“If they look down the road, there’s going to be more tax dollars coming into the community. The community’s grown by 4.7 per cent since the last census, and the 0-4 group has increased by 15.5 per cent, which is three times the provincial average. So when they say that the youth group is not growing, it actually is growing,” said Millar.
“I don’t think we give up,” said Jan Wilson, who came to Renfrew in the late 1980s with a swimming background and knowing the town was preparing to build a pool.
She also remembers her first week in town, when she picked up a copy of The Renfrew Mercury, only to learn that the pool project had been canned.