In Barry's Bay, the ice is going out, but doctors are coming in

·3 min read

Barry’s Bay – In a trifecta of municipal decision-making worthy of that famous old Brudenell horse track back in the 1870s, Madawaska Valley Township council continued last week to race forward in dealing with its two most prickly issues -- doctor recruitment and the future of the Paul J. Yakabuski Community Centre (PJYCC).

The good news coming out of last Tuesday’s meeting centred on the news of three separate agreements that had been reached and were expected to be signed shortly by all municipal governments involved and two new doctors and one medical student expected to become a doctor this summer. Dr. Danial Ostapowicz, Dr. Teresa Ostapowicz, and Erin Murray, have all been offered $150,000 each to set up their practices in the area. The funding will be jointly shared by various local governments, though it will likely be the last such agreement made. Currently, the municipal government group includes North Algona Wilberforce; Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan; Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards; South Algonquin and MV Township, but Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards already has voted to leave the group this year. The rest are expected to follow suit with an official announcement expected shortly.

More bad news was in the air at MV council by what was not said. Apparently, no new ‘free’ money has been found nor did the mayor mention she had heard of any grant money thought to be forthcoming to finance a $1.4 million retrofit of the ice surface at the Paul J. Yakabuski Community Centre. Still, council moved forward with two new proposals, one, a cost saving measure, the other, a new source of funds that might minimize the need to take out a $1.4 million loan and, thus, raise local taxes by as much as 2.5 per cent.

Given the PJYCC is all but shut down due to the recent provincial Stay-at-Home order that council expects to be extended, and given the arena operating costs are over $1,800 a day on average, council voted, over the sole objection of Councillor Ernie Peplinski, to remove the artificial ice as soon as possible.

Coun. Peplinkski’s objection was centred on his concern the impact such ice removal might have on jobs at the arena.

“I don’t disagree…but …were talking…of laying people off, and I’m just wondering if we should be having more of a discussion in closed session about perhaps that particular issue… I just don’t know how we can move forward (with the decision to remove the ice) without having that discussion. It’s affecting people’s lives.”

Just when the council meeting was about to wrap up for the day, Councillor David Shulist proposed some new business, a new option for financing the ice-pad rehab project.

“I may have a solution,” said Coun. Shulist, who said he proposed something similar when he was mayor, though he also said his idea went nowhere at that time. He then went on to describe what he believed was a 400-acre piece of property adjacent to the Bark Lake Dam that, he said, was owned by MV Township. He suggested it could be sold, with all income from the sale, after costs, to be given to the ice resurfacing project.

His idea caught on like a house on fire. Before long, Mayor Kim Love was recommending parkland she was certain was owned by the municipality near her home that might also be considered for sale. And, so, before council ended its public session and went into another in-camera session to discuss its never-ending legal issues with a particular ratepayer, staff was directed to run up a comprehensive list of any piece of property owned by MV Township that might be considered for immediate sale.

No mention was made of using any of the 400-acres adjacent to Bark Lake to build a race track similar to the one made famous in Brudenell back in the 19thCentury.

Barry Conway, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader