NORTH HURON – Council deferred a request from the Wingham Columbus Centre (WCC) to reduce their contribution to the township until discussions about possible future use of space for township meeting purposes are held.
The province provided financial assistance in the spring, which the WCC used to meet its 2020 financial commitment as per the lease agreement.
The Wingham Columbus Centre was also able to meet its financial commitment for the first six months of the year.
In August 2021, the WCC board of directors requested a meeting with staff and council to discuss the financial challenges they were experiencing due to the COVID-19 restrictions.
Topics of the discussion included challenges to meeting financial commitments, assistance needed to recover from COVID-19, and possible township use of the WCC Hall and Lounge.
After the meeting, the board of directors was invited to submit a written request/proposal relative to the financial assistance needed for council’s consideration.
The written request asked for a reduction in their financial contribution towards heat and hydro, the building alarm system, and the contribution made on an annual basis toward the deficit of the entire North Huron Wescast Complex.
The report, presented to council by the Director of Recreation and Community Services Vicky Luttenberger, said, “the latter includes reducing their contribution towards the deficit of the entire North Huron Wescast Complex by 50 per cent for a five-year term.
“The WCC Board of Directors believe it will take them approximately five years to fully recover from COVID-19 pandemic. The Board of Directors further suggest the terms of the agreement be reviewed at the end of the third year.”
According to the report, the township is approximately 2.5 years into a five-year lease agreement with the WCC. The agreement was executed by By-law in June 2019 and is scheduled to expire on June 30, 2024.
The terms of the lease agreement require a financial commitment of $41,500 annually. The financial commitment is comprised of three components:
- $19,000 flat-rate towards the utility costs;
- $10,000 toward the deficit of the entire North Huron Wescast Community Complex; and
- $12,500 from the Knights of Columbus towards their pledge for the construction of the facility.
The request received does not affect the annual pledge contribution of $12,500, a personal financial commitment made by the Knights of Columbus.
CAO Dwayne Evans recently discussed the potential use of space at the WCC for township purposes with the chairperson of the Board of Directors.
The chairperson indicated the Board of Directors is open to discussions regarding township usage of the space. It was suggested a joint committee be established to discuss the potential use of the space for township purposes.
Council approved the creation of a joint committee and agreed to wait to decide on the financial request from WCC until these discussions are held.
Future considerations associated with this report said that as the township continues to grow, it may need to develop partnerships and alternative ways of operating to meet its’ operational needs and those of the public.
Cory Bilyea, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wingham Advance Times