Vienna fund options: recreation or capital

·3 min read

What should happen to funds from the sale of the Vienna Community Centre was a topic of discussion at the May 19 Bayham council meeting.

The conversation was two-fold, first to discuss what to do with money in the Vienna Community Centre Reserve Fund, and secondly to discuss the use of the proceeds of the sale.

The reserve fund had $42,324 to cover any major expenses or upgrades to the VCC, which the municipality recently declared suplus and sold to the Vienna Lions. Staff recommended donating the money to the Lions for ongoing building maintenance.

Three options were presented for the $476,000 from the sale of the community centre:

Option one was to use the money for recreational facilities in the village. Bayham had recently, unsuccessfully, sought a $150,000 grant for upgrades to the Vienna park behind the community centre. There were also community requests for a splash pad and boat launch in the village during budget meetings.

The second option was to use the money to fund capital infrastructure in the village. For instance, more sidewalks could be installed and updates to water and storm water systems are needed within 10 years.

The third option is a combination of the first two, with the money split.

In his report to council, CAO Thomas Thayer said the staff preference was option two, followed by option three. He also recommended community input into the decision.

Councillor Valerie Donnell asked how input would be collected from the village and was told a notice could be put in water bills and then electronic or written comments could be submitted.

“We were going to spend $500,000 on VCC and all of Bayham was going to pay for it,” said Cr. Dan Froese in reference to planned improvements prior to deciding to offload the facility. “Now we are going to invest the proceeds just in the village. I think we need to look at Option 4, but I don’t know what that looks like.”

He added he was also open to discussing what was presented.

“I believe funds should be returned to Vienna,” said Deputy Mayor Rainey Weisler. “I am leaning towards option three. I believe there will be some needs for significant upgrades in the village in the near future and it would be good to put money away for that. I am also in favour of allowing residents to have input into how we spend the money on recreation activities.”

Mayor Ed Ketchabaw reminded council there was a 2015 report that said the municipality will have storm water problems in Vienna and Port Burwell.

Treasurer Lorne James said if the money, or part of it, was assigned to future capital projects it should be put in a bond in case there were grants that required shovel-readiness. He said while this was being sorted out, the money could be put in a short-term GIC.

Councillors unanimously passed a motion directing staff to report back with investment options in June 2022 and for a public comment period to commence in July. Results of the comments were to be reported in August..

Jeff Helsdon, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express

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