MINDEMOYA—Central Manitoulin council has given its approval to a proposed membership list for the Old School Repurposing Committee, despite concerns by one council member that there may not be enough business people among the mix.

“This is a pretty inclusive group to look at what can be done with the Old School,” said Mayor Richard Stephens, at a council meeting last week. He pointed out there are only two members from the historical committee on the committee and all other people on the committee are from the community etc. ‘I think a good job was done of  putting this list of committee members together.”

“I would really like to see a couple of more business people on the committee,” said Councillor Derek Stephens. “When the historical society looked at (uses for) the Old School they came back with the idea of  turning it into a museum, but we already have one called the town welcome centre. If we are going to put taxpayers dollars into old buildings I want something substantial (being proposed) and by getting more business members on the committee we will get this. Whatever ideas come forward I want to see a good business plan at the end of all of this.”

Mayor Stephens had indicated that the Finance and Economic Development Committee had recommended for council’s consideration that the committee include Ted Williamson, Jan McQuay, Joanne Smith, Sam Bondi, Hal  Love, Mayor Richard Stephens as ex-officio and councillors Linda Farquhar and Alex Baran.

“My only concern with Derek’s comments is that we would be making the  committee too large,” said Councillor Dale Scott. “Seven members is plenty large,” he said, noting Mr. Bondi is a businessman, and Alex Baran, Ted Williamson and Linda Farquhar all have business experience.  “I think the committee is well represented.”

Councillor Pat MacDonald said it’s important that local residents and business owners know that even if they are not on the Old Mill committee, their input and ideas are welcome.

It was explained by Councillor Farquhar the people who had been agreed to sit on the committee have all shown an interest in repurposing the Old School building.

Councillor Baran noted as well that, “it is not like other business people or anyone else in the community will be locked out of providing input on the plans for the Old School,” said Councillor Baran. “We all know that various sectors in the community have an interest in the Old School.”

Mayor Stephens said the selection and agreement on the membership list on the committee was a good first step, and it includes a good cross-section of the municipality.

“I just want to make it clear that they know, and members of the community know there will be more community discussion throughout the process and we are not excluding anyone from providing input,” said Councillor MacDonald.

“We are  looking for any ideas, from anyone,” said Mayor Stephens.

Councillor Baran noted the committee is to provide its proposal to the FED committee by October 1, 2018, so that input can be provided by council.

“I hate to put this proposal off to the next council (with municipal elections to take place in 2018),” said Councillor Stephens. “This (current) council needs to have a kick at the proposal. This council has been the one working on this issue, and had decided to close the building, then reopen it twice. This council needs to deal with the issue and make a final decision on the proposal made. The longer this proposal and decision is put off the harder it is going to be to make one.”

Councillor Farquhar said, “Ted (Williamson) felt (October 1, 2018) would be a good date for the presentation of the proposal from the committee.”

Council passed a motion, to accept the recommended membership list for the Old School Repurposing committee.