Time to speak out and let council know
Steve Newman, Renfrew Mercury
December 12, 2012
It’s time to be heard, and not just with a short email to council.
Take the time to weigh the pros and cons and express your opinion about whether the town’s taxpayers should shoulder the capital and operating costs of a proposed second ice surface and Renfrew’s first-ever indoor swimming pool.
As Mayor Bill Ringrose says, written or typed letters have more impact than a photocopied letter.
The proposed $18.3 million facility would feature a pool and second ice surface that includes a whirlpool. and walking track. It’s also understood that the project will go no where if $6 million isn’t coming from both the provincial and the federal government.
You may be heavily for, or against, the proposed facility, but it’s hard to argue that any community isn’t better off with a swimming pool.
Pools are hubs for learning or maintaining important skills that significantly impact people’s confidence, education and safety.
Pools, however, are also virtual financial sinkholes.
Recreation management consultant John Frittenberg, whose projects across this country include the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, told those at Tuesday’s public meeting on the proposed facility that there isn’t a pool in the country that makes money.
He also noted that twinning pools with multi-purpose facilities helps the bottom line.
An important part of the bottom line, according to Ma-Te-Way aquatic centre committee chairman Leo Hall and second ice surface committee chairman Scott Buffam, is the need factor, and how these facilities will positively impact the health of residents not just in Renfrew, but in surrounding communities.
“What really resonates with me is weighing the collective good, the benefits to the community versus the financial reality of building a facility,” says Buffam.
“So it’s absolutely up to council, seven people, to decide if a $100 tax increase per (household) is basically worth it to build a comprehensive facility that we’re proposing.”
Life-long Renfrew resident Ez Valliquette isn’t convinced the second rink is needed; he believes a gym makes more sense. But he says the $18-million facility would have a chance of being built if ratepayers didn’t get bent out of shape about a tax increase of four or five percentage points.
Surveyed residents said they were comfortable with a one or two point jump. Instead, he says, the average ratepayer should see the larger jump (if ever approved) as thr cost of two more tanks of gas.
The pool, says Hall, represents a “significant and serious” recreation need in the community. As Buffam puts it, the user groups’ end-all and be-all is the building of collective community health.
Both Hall and Buffam admit it will be a challenge to determine how the financial costs can be afforded.
But they remain optimistic and hope to convince council to take that leap of faith. Whatever your opinions, share them with council, and help Renfrew define its own future.
This article is for personal use only courtesy of YourOttawaRegion.com - a division of Metroland Media Group Ltd.