Tay community space group reveals upgrade costs for Waubaushene facility

·4 min read

It might take a community to raise a child, but it also looks like it might take a township to raise a recreation centre for a group of children; even if they don’t yet know how to do it.

At a recent meeting of Tay regular council, the Waubaushene Community Space Ad-Hoc Committee (CSC) presented an update which provided research and options for a viable community space in the village.

The short multi-speaker presentation examined a township survey held earlier this year, focusing on recreation programs, facilities and community spaces pertaining directly to Waubaushene.

“We tried to get an understanding of what the needs in Waubaushene were,” began Coun. Barry Norris on the two-month recreation survey covering all of Tay. “We did end up with 641 responses, and we figured 20% of those individuals were from the Waubaushene area.”

Bryan Anderson, manager of parks, recreation and facility services, spoke about four of the survey questions relating directly to the village.

In the question of lacking facilities for Waubaushene, Anderson replied that “155 responses and an overwhelming 74.19% said indoor facilities, i.e. multi-use spaces, meeting rooms, and gyms.”

Community centres, community halls, and space for older adult programming ranked most important for Tay residents, who also voted in the majority for maintaining current spending on each of those. For funding, more than 50% of respondents were willing to wait for government grants, and/or help through fundraising.

Deputy Mayor Gerard LaChapelle provided a brief history of the funding of other Tay community spaces, through partnerships with various levels of government agencies, community fundraisers and donors.

Norris provided four options recommended by the CSC: replacing the “Benny Club” portable to the cost of at least $100,000; a roughly $900,000 addition to the east end wall of the fire station; a multi-purpose community space which had been unsuccessful in a previous 2019 grant application for $2 million; and rental space for the outer grounds and upstairs hall at Legion Branch 316, which when contacted responded that “they would be most interested in further conversation,” according to Norris.

“We did entertain a couple of unrealistic options -- a gym, swimming pool, arenas -- but the cost of those are financially unacceptable,” Norris explained.

Brent Andreychuk, manager of financial services / treasurer, provided information on three types of funding: grant applications, shared partnerships and fundraising, and debt financing. “Partnership with the Legion is a good option,” Andreychuk noted, although costs are unknown and would need to be determined.

When council had an opportunity to ask questions, Coun. Mary Warnock was first to bring up immediate needs.

“What are we going to do about the Benny Club and the portable that’s there?” wondered Warnock. “Now that you’ve given us a cost of what it would be to replace it, we certainly don’t have that in our budget.

“That program means a lot to the kids and the youth in Waubaushene, and Cindy and her volunteers do a great job with that group; it’s supported by many people in the community and many organizations.”

Norris replied to the immediacy of the Benny Club’s situation.

“The portable is in very sad shape. We’re not even sure how long it’s going to be able to survive, so we definitely have to be able to react on that. Whether there’ll be any interim process we can look at, whether it’s through the Legion or anything else, that all depends on our meeting with the Waubaushene Action Group (WAG) to see what they have to say,” said Norris.

Mayor Ted Walker chewed on various types of funding for the community spaces, but admitted, “It’s going to be a tough go for fundraising as our businesses have certainly suffered under COVID.”

Warnock further spoke to the vocal want by the community versus the offer to accept.

“Although people want the programming, they want these buildings,” said Warnock, “lots of times Bryan sets up a lot of programming for people, and then those programs never come to life because nobody registers.” Anderson nodded in affirmation.

Following the discussion, council’s questions and comments were brought back to the WAG, who will provide input to a township committee for a later council recommendation in November.

Tay council meets for regular council meetings every fourth Wednesday of the month. Further information including council’s agenda can be found on the Tay township website.

Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca

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