Letter: The stars have not aligned on the fate of the Old School

Despite two years of effort by two committees a solution has evaded every reasonable effort

To the Expositor:

I want to thank the Central Manitoulin Old School Repurposing Committee and the Recreation Centre Committee for their dedication to their tasks over the last two years. Even though were are all disappointed with the consultant’s findings related to the Old School, I believe these two teams have done a great job of researching the community’s needs. 

As we all know, Central Manitoulin has limited financial resources and can’t do everything we dream of. We were disappointed to know that we couldn’t afford to add a pool to our recreational centre plans. We also don’t have the money to renovate the Old School plus build a new recreation centre. Do we choose to become a landlord and invest in the Old School, or do we invest in our community arenas and the community hall? We can’t do both. 

We have been provided with a once in a lifetime opportunity to apply for a grant to build a new recreation centre, a facility that also incorporates and upgrades the existing Memorial Community Hall. This grant application opportunity came just as the Recreation Centre Committee was finalizing their work. The cost of this project is approximately the same as the five-year operational and capital cost that we will otherwise need to invest in upgrading the Providence Bay Arena, Mindemoya Arena and the Memorial Community Centre. 

Contrary to what Ms. McQuay fears in her letter to The Expositor a couple of weeks ago (‘Why is council willing to subsidize a $13 million proposal but not rec or social activities?’ January 15), the majority of councillors do not want to see the Old School destroyed. We work hard to keep the financial and social welfare of residents as a priority in the decisions that are made. These are often difficult decisions, especially when we have to weigh conflicting needs, but we all work with the goal of making our community better. 

It might not be possible to save the building as it stands right now, but we’ve already been presented with wonderful ideas for preserving the spirit and history of the Old School. The outcome will be the best choice possible when we all work together. 

Dale Scott

Councillor, Property Committee Chair

Central Manitoulin