Council to consider use of COVID funds for repairs to outdoor rink

Youngsters and adults alike have been enjoying the use of an outdoor skating rink in Kagawong this winter.

KAGAWONG – Billings Township received some good news in the form of COVID-19 funding from the province.

“We received some good news from the province of further funding of an additional $30,000 for 2020-2021,” said Megan Bonenfant, deputy clerk, at a recent council meeting. She pointed out the funding can be used for such things as outdoor recreation amenities like repairs to the outdoor rink (near the Park Centre in Kagawong, which is being looked at by the township this spring). 

Council reviewed an offer by local resident Andrew Preyde concerning the necessary outdoor rink repairs. “Our outdoor ice rink is important to the community and is used regularly for many events. Throughout the years it has been in the community for as long as I have, so about 30 years, and it is in need of repairs.”

“I understand that it is difficult to find money and time to fix it so that there are no safety concerns so everyone can have fun there year-round with many more to come,” wrote Mr. Preyde. “I am letting you know that I have intentions to do fundraising for this fix in a way (so that the rink) will last another 30 years or more with little or no maintenance.” 

It was pointed out that the township parks, recreation and wellness committee has discussed making a recommendation that repairs to the ice rink be included in the 2021 budget, but have not made a recommendation to council at this time. Township CAO/Clerk Kathy McDonald has raised the potential for COVID-19 operating funding to be used for rink maintenance expenses in the spring, noting “for liability reasons, it is not advisable for a private citizen to undertake fundraising efforts for municipal purposes.” 

“I’m sure all of council has read Andrew’s letter on his offer, and thank him for this,” said Mayor Ian Anderson. 

Council passed a resolution that council refer the matter of repairs to the Park Centre ice rink to the parks, recreation and wellness committee to investigate and bring forward a recommendation to council prior to budget deliberations.

“I would like to thank Andrew, as I have in person, for all his years in getting the rink in shape and helping to put in the ice over the past number of years,” said Councillor Sharon Jackson. “We all agree work needs to be done. The committee will take time to look at what repairs need to be done and the costs involved and work on a budget for the next meeting.”

Councillor Sharon Alkenbrack said, “I would also like to thank Andrew for taking initiative and bringing this offer forward. We are grateful for the money coming from the province and want to make sure there is enough to accomplish what needs to be done. The revitalization of the rink is close to the heart of many of us in the community and I would like to see Andrew kept in the loop and discussions on this.” 

“It is obviously important to him,” said Councillor Alkenbrack, noting Mr. Preyde arranges with the fire department to have the rink flooded and cleaned. “Andrew needs to be recognized for his efforts and his personal endeavours on behalf of the community. Andrew, thank you.”

All members of council praised Mr. Preyde for his efforts.

In a letter to Billings Mayor Ian Anderson dated December 16, 2020, Steve Clark, minister of municipal affairs and housing writes, “from the outset of COVID-19, our government knew that the pandemic was going to put a significant strain on Ontario’s municipalities. That is why we are committed to working with all levels of government to ensure municipalities can continue to deliver the critical services Ontarians rely on.” 

“In our negotiations with the federal government, what started as a $14 billion national proposal was negotiated into the $19 billion Safe Restart Agreement, securing up to $4 billion for Ontario’s municipalities and transit systems,” continued Minister Clark. 

“In August, our government committed $695 million in an initial round of allocations under the $1.39 billion municipal operating stream. Earlier today, I announced that the Ontario government is investing an additional $695 million under the historic Safe Restart Agreement’s municipal operating stream to help our municipal partners manage the financial impacts of COVID-19 and start 2021 in a more secure financial position,” continued Minister Clark. “I am pleased to advise that your municipality’s allocation is $30,000. This amount is being provided to help your municipality with 2021 COVID-related operating pressures.”