SILVER WATER – By a vote of 22 to five, residents of Robinson Township have voted in favour of repealing a previous bylaw and replacing it with a new funding model for the Silver Water Recreation Centre (SWRC) that will see Local Services Board (LSB) fully fund the recreation centre. The bylaw will ensure that the contract between the LSB and the SWRC will reflect the new arrangement. In essence, this will mean that everyone in the township will be paying an extra $15 in taxes (per year) to maintain the long-term future of the hall.
At the annual meeting of the Robinson LSB held last Saturday at the ball field in Silver Water, chair Tim McKinlay said, “one of the issues we would like to discuss today is the services board and the hall board. I have a written summary that explains everything in detail, but it’s my intention to reboot the agreement between the LSB and the SWRC so the hall board doesn’t have to match fundraising.”
“The long term future of the Silver Water Community Hall is at stake,” said Mr. McKinlay. “The hall is important to the community and provides space for a number of services to the community: foot care, AA meetings, diabetic care, local board meetings, private and public functions including weekly card parties, fire department radio and tower, fire department phone line (a dedicated line separate from the hall’s phone line) and Canada Post boxes. Due to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, the hall board has not been able to host its usual fundraising events. Through the focused efforts of a league of volunteers in the community fundraising is happening, but the funds needed far outstrip what is being raised.”
Mr. McKinlay explained, “the hall needs a minimum of approximately $18,000 a year to run. Property taxes, heat, hydro, insurance, caretaker phone, it all adds up. This $18,000 does not allow for increasing revenues for a rainy day—a new stove and dishwasher come to mind. Insurance costs, taxes and hydro will almost certainly be going up; some of them substantially. None of the above amounts take into consideration the considerable amount of donated labour, for instance: snow removal, interior maintenance, lawn mowing and other yard maintenance, etc.”
“Even though the population base is holding steady, there are fewer and fewer people willing to do the heavy lifting of running the hall,” continued Mr. McKinlay. “Fundraising fatigue is setting in with some people. Given this reality, I would like to see all of the hall’s operating budget blended into the tax base. Don’t get me wrong, fundraising has a vital role to play and the efforts of our fundraisers and volunteers are to be commended. But to get the hall through 2020-2021 and 2021-2022, and perhaps beyond, it needs our help from the general tax base.”
“COVID-19 is with us for a long time yet, I believe for at least one to two years forward. The hall’s ability to fundraise like the good old days are limited. Going forward in the LSB’s next budget, the amount to fund the hall needs to be set somewhere upwards of $18,000, with the balance hopefully coming from fundraising. Anything less and the community runs the risk of the hall being out of business,” Mr. McKinlay told the meeting.
Karen Noble secretary/treasurer said the hall has about $10,000 in savings on hand.
It was pointed out insurance will be coming out soon and it is expected to be a sizable cost, along with costs such as hydro and oil that will take up much of these funds.
“I would like to support changing anything we need to ensure the hall continues to run,” said one person at the meeting.
Murray Duncanson said he would go after insurance companies to lower their rates, as halls for instance are not being used during COVID-19.
Doug Wismer cautioned, however, that in a lot of cases, if something like a hall is not being used, insurance costs increase.
“I live here seven months of the year,” Dave Watts told the gathering. “I’d be supportive of (LSB) fully funding the hall. We have so many important functions here and all our residents benefit from the hall being here. It’s the hub of the community. No one likes to see their taxes increase, but the 15 extra dollars it would cost each of us is worth it to me to know the hall is open and functioning. I’m more than happy to pitch in $15 extra a year.”
Willie Hunter put forward a motion that Bylaw 1308, dated November 16, 2000 be repealed and replaced by a new bylaw regarding a new funding model for the Silver Water Recreation Centre. As well, a second motion which was brought up further in the meeting indicates that the Robinson LSB would fully fund the SWRC and that the contract between the LSB and SWRC would reflect that reality.
There were 22 people voting in favour of the first motion and five opposed, and 24 in favour of the second motion and three opposed.
In the board elections, nine people were nominated, but the same board will remain in place for the coming year, including Willie Hunter, Karen Noble, Tim McKinlay, Paul Sorbara and Colin Frame.