Central council names community, council committee to investigate potential new recreation centre

CENTRAL MANITOULIN—The wheels are in motion to explore the possibility of a new recreation centre complex for Central Manitoulin with the striking of a new committee for that purpose. 

The original motion, moved by Councillor Derek Stephens and seconded by Councillor Angela Johnston, recommended that council “establish a committee to explore the feasibility of a new recreation complex which will include April Watson, Leslie McDermid, Lana Kutchaw, Ron Wouthus, Jordan Smith, Councillor Johnston and one other member of council to be confirmed later.”

“It would be nice to decide who the other council member on the committee would be,” said Councillor Johnston. She noted that there were also other community members who had expressed an interest in being on the committee, referencing Brian Phelps. “It would make the committee somewhat large, but we don’t want to be turning people away. I would be more comfortable if we added other people.”

“Many hands make light work,” quoted Mayor Richard Stephens.  

Mayor Richard Stephens noted that the chair of the property committee, Councillor Dale Scott, would be a likely candidate as the second council member on the committee and with his acquiescence he was added to the roster. Council further agreed to add Marcus Mohr and Mr. Phelps to the committee motion.

The discussion turned to the makeup of the committee, with Councillor Stephens expressing concern that the number of council members on the committee (three, including the mayor who sits as ex officio on all committees of council). “They could pretty much sway the vote on the committee,” he suggested.

Mayor Stephens noted that the previous committee struck to examine the potential for a new recreation complex had only two members. “That committee had only two, now we have nine and we are a lot further ahead,” he said. 

During discussion, it was noted that the two members of that previous committee had only met once in a largely informal manner to look at a potential site for a new centre. “We really didn’t do much more after that,” said Councillor Al Tribinevicius.

“That was the problem, I think, we didn’t get a report from that committee,” said Councillor Stephens. “We waited for it at the last term of council and it never came.”

Councillor Steve Shaffer asked for a clarification of the mandate of the new committee. “Is it really only to look at a new facility or will it look at whether such a facility is really needed?” he asked.

“Steve raised a very good point,” said Councillor Tribinevicius. “You really need to have terms of reference at the start of the process—you have to have it clear.”

“It is probably better that the committee determine what the terms of reference are,” suggested Mayor Stephens. “Then bring it to council.”

“No, it’s council’s job to determine the mandate of committees,” countered Councillor Shaffer, “not the committee’s.”

“What I understood the mandate to be is to look at the needs of the community as in terms of hockey and other users of the services,” said Ms. Johnston. “Do we keep the arenas open, do we build a new facility?”

“Sounds good to me,” said Councillor Shaffer.

Councillor Scott pointed out that the Old School Repurposing Committee created their own terms of reference. “We didn’t really have any input into any of that,” he said. “I think it is important to know and accept the terms of reference. I think the committee can come up with the terms, but council needs to accept those terms.”

“As long as we have the opportunity to accept them before they get too far down the road,” agreed Councillor Shaffer.