A goodbye to the McCullochs
Prior to the start of the March 9 meeting of council, Mayor Al MacNevin took a few moments to wish Donnie and Carrie McCulloch well in their retirement from Breakaway Sports after almost 33 years on the main street.
“It’s been a formidable accomplishment to run that business all those years,” the mayor said, thanking the couple for the years they provided that service “and in particular, for the bench that provided a place to sit for old farts like me.”
Mayor MacNevin then (virtually) presented the McCullochs with a certificate of congratulations.
Mr. McCulloch thanked everyone for the presentation and said he enjoyed his chats with everyone over the past 30 years.
“It’s been a privilege to serve,” Ms. McCulloch added. “The Quackenbushes (the new owners of Breakaway) will do a great job and there’s exciting things coming to downtown Little Current.”
Rick Bond, president of the Manitoulin Snowdusters, spoke to council about the snowmobile club’s wish for the use of the road allowance between Lots 5 and 6 Concession 9 in Howland for the use of a snowmobile trail in order to avoid the traffic of Boosneck Road.
The existing trail comes up the lagoon road, crosses Highway 540 to Hayward Street, travels Boosneck Road for a short time, then back to Hayward Street. The increase in development as well as a lack of snow on the roadway is not ideal for snowmobilers, Mr. Bond noted.
The new trail would travel the road allowance between Lots 5 and 6 on the 9th Concession from North Channel Drive to Highway 540, follow the ditch east along the north side and then back to the lagoon road.
“If it’s a safety issue with the snowmobilers, we need to work something out,” said Councillor Bill Koehler.
The request was to be discussed at the March 16 council meeting.
Welcome Centre concerns
Council received a letter from Angela and Carmen Argmann of Rockgarden Terrace and the Shaftesbury Inn, expressing their concern for the lack of Island support for the Manitoulin Welcome Centre.
“The vacating of the information centre by the Manitoulin Tourism Association (now called Destination Manitoulin Island) left a very big vacuum in the Manitoulin tourist industry,” the Argmanns write. “I am certain it is felt all across Manitoulin. Several of our customers noticed and expressed their views. This is the most vital point of entry and for tourists to pick up information.”
“We would like to recommend that the town of Little Current approach again all the affected Manitoulin townships to sign up and contribute so they can represent their communities and businesses.
“The building today is as important and impressive as when it first opened. It just needs to be properly set up and operated again. With the input of all interested groups, that should be quite possible. This is a showcase building for all of Manitoulin to benefit and first impressions count.
“We definitely will recommend our township of Central Manitoulin (where Rock Garden Terrace Resort is located) to sign up and use some of our tax money for that worthwhile cause.”
“Council is well aware of what happened with the welcome centre with some municipalities supporting it, some not,” said Mayor MacNevin. “Council has made every effort to encourage other municipalities to support this crucial piece of infrastructure. The letter writer is absolutely right—the other municipalities should be involved.”
The mayor reminded council that the only remaining municipalities to make up the operating committee of the welcome centre in addition to the Northeast Town are Billings and Assiginack.
“We would welcome any support we can get from the other municipalities,” he said, noting that the welcome centre will open again this summer, utilizing summer students hired by the Northeast Town.
Councillor Cook asked if there was “any harm” in reaching out to the municipalities again.
The mayor responded that while there isn’t any harm, he believes it will be a tough sell, explaining that Central Manitoulin Mayor Richard Stephens is in full support, but his council isn’t. “It was quite clear that a number of their councillors didn’t see the benefit,” he said.
“And Gore Bay decided to pull out (of the Welcome Centre’s operating committee) for no better reason than because Central did.”
Mayor MacNevin said he found it interesting that a number of municipal councillors now make up the board of directors of DMI, which now has a rented room at the Tehkummah marina as its head office, “and they’re okay with that.” Mayor MacNevin also noted that DMI’s executive director, Shelba Milette, is the economic development officer for Assiginack, Tehkummah and Killarney, “and they seem okay with that too.”
Northern Credit Union closure
Mayor Al MacNevin said he had been approached by other Island municipalities, asking that the Northeast Town draft a letter to send to the Northern Credit Union (NCU) president, expressing its displeasure at seeing the last Island NCU branch close effective June 1.
“I’m deeply disappointed in Northern Credit Union,” said Councillor Erskine. “The way they’ve basically scooped up the assets of a community and expect us to travel a ridiculous distance to get to a counter. “I’m not sure ‘credit union’ is actually a good term for that institution anymore.”
Councillor Bruce Wood said a lot of people have reached out to him since the news of the closure with their concerns. “Most people ain’t going to drive to Espanola,” he said. “It’s causing major problems, including for me.”
The mayor was to draft a letter to send.
Canadian Heritage funds
Council received the good news that the municipality had received a grant of $4,000 for the Little Current Business Improvement Area (BIA) through its Celebrate Canada program, which will be used for BIA Canada Day programming.
Coyote bylaw rescind request
Council received a letter from Nicole Corrade, asking that it rescind its coyote compensation bylaw, which was passed last month.
“Please stop the coyote bounty,” Ms. Corrado writes. “Every coyote killed leaves room for more to move in. Every trap kills and injures many non-target animals. Dogs and wolves often get shot as well. And having a bounty leads people to kill animals via all sorts of means.”
Mayor MacNevin found fault with the letter writer, pointing out that the bylaw was not a bounty and saying he did respond to her concerns, but did not hear back.
Councillor Cook said she thought the letter raised many good points, but the mayor disagreed, dissecting the letter line by line.
Councillor Cook asked that council invite the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and members of the group Coyote Watch to attend a council meeting. Staff was directed to extend an invitation.