Community committee will advise Central council on possible usage for Old School

Central Manitoulin Old School.

MINDEMOYA—Central Manitoulin, at its next regular council meeting, will be considering a list of members to serve on the Mindemoya Old School Repurposing Committee.

At the Central Manitoulin Finance and Economic Development committee (FED) meeting last week, the committee discussed the terms of reference for the committee and its members.

“Before we talk about the composition of the committee I did some footwork and put together a suggested terms of reference for the committee,” said FED committee chair (Councillor) Alex Baran. The committee name was suggested as the Mindemoya Old School Repurposing Committee (MOSRC), he told the committee members. It was also proposed that the MOSRC shall be an ad hoc committee formed by the authority of Central Manitoulin council and that its working period shall be for the duration of its mandate which shall end September 30, 2018.

“It was my understanding the committee mandate was to have a proposal to council as of December 31, 2018,” said Mayor Richard Stephens.

It was pointed out by Councillor Derek Stephens that it wouldn’t be the current Central Manitoulin council members in place by then.

“I’m rather fond of the earlier completion; anything after September 30 (2018) is too late for a decision to be made on the proposal by this council,” said Councillor Pat MacDonald.

Ted Williamson, a local resident who is seeking to be on the committee said, “what is wrong with the proposal going to the next council? Council is council whether it is the current members on a new slate. Administration has their notes. The proposal should be ready by the end of September, but to get funds and find businesses or groups that will consider leasing space (in the building) is going to take time.”

Councillor Stephens has served as a councillor with five different councils. “What is a priority for one council may not be for another council. I can understand what Pat (MacDonald) is saying.”

Councillor MacDonald pointed out, “I’m not sure how the legislation works when we have to make a decision on finances involving the proposal and the legislation on council having to make any type of decision concerning finances on this. I don’t think we can make any financial decisions in September or October, until after the new council is elected.”

“What this will have to be is a viable proposal, with meat on the bones,” said Councillor Baran.

Councillor Dale Scott suggested, “from one council to the next there is lots of spillover. And financial consideration on projects or plans go from one council to the next. I don’t know what the big concern is. The new council would be brought up to speed quickly.”

“But we can’t pass on an ad hoc committee to the next council. The committee’s work has to be done by the end of this council,” said Councillor Stephens.

Mayor Stephens felt there is no difference between an ad hoc committee and subcommittee of FED. He suggested changing the term ad hoc committee to sub-committee. “I agree with Dale the municipal council will be here whether it’s this or the next council. This council can still review the proposal. I’d like to see the committee given any benefit of the doubt (to help get the job done).”

Mr. Williamson indicated that the committee could have a proposal ready at the end of September.

He told the committee, “let’s say we come up with a binding proposal and we’re waiting for the ink to dry and that comes after September 30. We’re not asking for any funds, except maybe for a small amount to cover some special people to come in and provide expert help.”

Even if the council can’t make any major decision on finances after this time, “this council can still receive a report/proposal and have an opinion on it,” said Councillor Baran.

And it was pointed out the committee under the terms of reference would have no spending authority other than spending requests approved by council.

It was suggested the committee would have a maximum of seven members, including the mayor, at least one councillor and up to five other members of the public.

“The mayor is ex-officio and is on all committees but may not always have a vote,” said Mayor Stephens. 

“So make the composition include two councillors and leave the mayor as ex-officio,” suggested Councillor Baran.

Councillor Linda Farquhar presented a list of people who could sit on the committee. The list included Ted Williamson, Sam Bondi, Joanne Smith, Jan McQuay and others.

“I’m glad to see a business person on the committee-that’s a good contribution,” said Councillor Baran.

“I think it would be a good idea to have two councillors on the committee,” said Councillor MacDonald.

The discussion then focused on who would be the council members on the committee. Linda Farquhar said she would be interested.

“I have a problem with councillors on this historical society sitting on this committee. They have a pecuniary interest when sitting on both committees,” said Councillor Stephens.

“The historical society is entirely volunteer,” said Ms. McQuay.

“But get council money,” said Councillor Stephens.

“About $1,500 a year,” said Ms. McQuay.

“Councillor Farquhar’s option on the building isn’t necessarily formed by her sitting on the historical society,” said Councillor Baran. “Linda is a sufficiently individual thinker to be able to do the job well,” he added.

Councillor Baran was asked if he would be willing to stand on the committee. “Yes, I would be.”

Although the list of names is only at proposal stage until considered by council at its meeting this week, Ted Williamson, Richard Stephens, Jan McQuay, Joanne Smith, Sam Bondi, Linda Farquhar and Alex Baran will be considered. It was noted as well that a  couple of other residents on the list would be asked as well, prior to council making its final decision this week.