The First Recreation Nightmare


SuperBuild

I want you to cast your mind back – way back nearly 10 years ago. Before the sole sourced Sprung Shield debacle, the patios debacle . Even before the Pretty River Academy grant brouhaha. To the beginning of 2004 and what was the biggest scandal of them all – the Super Build funding fiasco and this one people was a doozy. It is what has led us to the place where we are at today. Cobbled together recreation facilities that are at best a band aid solution that needed a permanent fix.
The Super Build Growth Fund was a $20 billion funding program that was initiated by then FedLibs and ProvCon governments in 1998 to upgrade infrastructure in Ontario. Wasaga Beach’s then new water and sewer program around that time was largely funded by that same program.
Collingwood was in desperate need of some new recreation facilities (nothing new there) and had $8.4 million promised for said facilities. The catch was it wasn’t an open ended funding opportunity it had a time limit. Projects had to be underway by the end of 2004.
This was, second to none, the biggest issue being talked about around Collingwood at that time. Several locations were being discussed as a site for it. One was the Mountainview soccer fields location where the Fire Hall and new pool are today. Lots of debate went on about this location, the local soccer clubs both adult and youth were up in arms because it would have effectively cut the playing pitch availability in half (this was before Fisher Fields) but the main reason that location was nixed was to leave those facilities in place.
So it was decided to put together a proposal to build the facility at 10th line where Fisher Fields are today. An agreement was put together to acquire the land in a partnership with Baybridge who would develop a comprehensive equestrian centre on the west end of the now Fisher Field. Remember this was prior to there being any substantial development at Georgian Meadows. So in the mindset of a few local politicians this was in the middle of nowhere (can you say no vision!!!). The discussions were endless. The proposal included a swimming pool, an ice pad, a new library, warm water pool, locker rooms, lobby, child drop off area, out-door play area (this was phase 1). Phase 2 allowed for another rink to be added, plus some of the soccer fields you see today.

I remember the arguments. Chadwick summarized them very well in his early blog The Blue Agave Forum on Feb. 5. 2004

Time for council to make a decision. No more stalling. Do we go ahead, do we simply say no thanks, we’re already broke and don’t want to burden the tax payer any further?

And if we go ahead, do we choose the Bayridge site, a downtown arena, a partnership with the YMCA or one of the remaining options?

At stake: millions of dollars in government funding, a possible grant of land (25 acres), a weakened and possibly unviable Y if we go elsewhere… tax hikes if we do proceed, works projects at risk because we have no money for other efforts…

We may have to choose between such things as sewer upgrades, road improvements, traffic signals, sidewalks and purchasing industrial land to bank for future growth? Can we afford a MUF as well as an Elvis festival? Can we afford a MUF and still continue to fund other pet projects or provide support for local groups? Unlikely, unless taxpayers are willing to shoulder a much larger increase than we plan now.

People say we’re building for our future. So are we when we upgrade roads, widen First Street, extend sewers and water mains… which is the most important? We can’t afford to do everything.

Meeting starts at 7 a.m. Expect it to be interesting.

Those were the arguments, Chadwick was a rookie councilor he had only been at the table for a couple of months. I had a lot of respect for him at that time and talked with him at length on the issue in his UPS Store. He was in a major quandary about how to vote.

On 5th February town council voted to proceed with the 10th line proposal. Then on 23rd February 2004 they re-visited the decision and killed the whole thing. The voting summary on this issue at those council meetings are below:

summary2004

The following is the EB online posting the following morning after it was nixed:

MULTI USE CENTRE GOES DOWNBy Staff
Wednesday, February 25, 2004 – 15:00
By a 5-4 vote on Tuesday night, councilors decided not to put a recreational facility on the 10th Line, negating any opportunity for Super Build funding and throwing into question what the town is going to do to revitalize some of its aging recreational facilities.
For more, see Friday’s Enterprise-Bulletin.

Rick Lloyd, Sandra Copper, Ian Chadwick, Mike Edwards and Norm Sandberg were the councilors that killed the 10th Line Multi Use Facility and basically handed back $8.4 million in government funding to build a proper recreation facility. As you all know four of the five are current council members. That four compounded there incompetence this term on the same file.

You couldn’t make this stuff up!!!

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