HH council appoints Maynooth Community Project Steering Committee members

·4 min read

The Municipality of Hastings Highlands council appointed two council members to the Maynooth Community Project Steering Committee at their April 20 meeting. Mayor Tracy Hagar and councillor Nancy Matheson will be the new committee members who along with the rest of the committee will see that a new building is procured to house the municipality’s proposed Indigenous centre, community space and childcare centre.

At the Hastings Highlands planning committee meeting on April 6, council accepted a report from Hagar on the next steps for the Maynooth Community Project; one of these steps was to direct staff to bring forth a bylaw to appoint two council members to the steering committee for this initiative, namely Hagar and Matheson.

The three-way partnership between the municipality of Hastings Highlands, the Algonquin peoples and the North Hastings Children’s Services arose from the April 18, 2021 meeting of council where they gave Hagar permission to approach the above-mentioned parties to team up to provide an Indigenous centre, a childcare centre and a community space and to erect a new building on the grounds of the current Maynooth Community Centre. The premises will also have a community kitchen, public washrooms with outside access, an outdoor market space with shelter for inclement weather and a stage area for outdoor activities. Meetings have already occurred between Hastings Highlands, the Kijicho Manito Madaouskarini Algonquin First Nation and NHCS, and Jessica Anderson, the executive director of NHCS presented to council at their meeting in February.

At first glance, while the current community centre in Maynooth might have seemed adequate to house the new Indigenous centre, community space and childcare centre, an engineering and structural assessment in 2019 and a hazardous materials assessment in 2020 revealed structural deficiencies and the use of hazardous materials in its construction that made it unsuitable for this purpose or any municipal usage going into the future. Council thus agreed that the community centre should be demolished because of this at their March 16 meeting.

Going forward, the steering committee will look into procuring a new building on the grounds of the Maynooth Community Centre (once it has been demolished) to house the Indigenous centre, community space and childcare centre. It will also provide a forum for input into the project, develop an action plan that includes operating and funding proposals, give expert opinions and recommendations to council, create an inclusive space for Algonquin culture and sharing of their knowledge, create a licenced childcare centre, build on strengths and diversity in the Hastings Highlands community, consider infection control in the design of the building and create sub-committees for community space creation and utilization.

In addition to Hagar and Matheson, the committee will also have a municipal senior leadership staff member (CAO/treasurer Dave Stewart), a representative from the Kijicho Manito Madaouskarini Algonquin First Nation (to be determined), a representative from NHCS (NHCS executive director Jessica Anderson) and a leadership representative from the municipal library (CEO and head librarian Wendy Sue Keating).

Meetings will be held monthly, or more if required so the committee can meet its objectives, and a quorum of at least four members will be needed for a meeting to take place. The NHCS representative will take minutes and provide records for the public record. Each member of the committee will keep their reporting body updated regularly to make sure that communication about the Maynooth Community Project remains transparent and collaborative.

The vote on bylaw 2022-028 at the April 20 meeting was brought forward by deputy mayor Dorothy Gerrow and seconded by councillor Keith Buck. Generally, council was pleased to see this bylaw and were interested in getting reports from the committee eventually with their progress.

Matheson told council that she thought it was an exceptional opportunity to work with strategic partners to make a difference in the community.

“I’m looking forward to being a very small part of it,” she says.

Hagar told The Bancroft Times on April 21 that she was thrilled to be moving forward with the Maynooth Community Project.

“The next steps will be to have the first meeting of the full team. We will keep [everyone] posted."

Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times

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