Whitestone votes to support West Parry Sound Wellness Centre and Pool project

·3 min read

The Municipality of Whitestone voted 3-2 in favour of supporting the West Parry Sound Wellness Centre and Pool project.

Whitestone held a public meeting on Thursday, March 25 to hear questions from ratepayers on the topic of the municipality’s involvement in the pool project.

Over 100 participants tuned in to the virtual meeting hosted over Zoom.

Council listened and answered many of the questions and statements from ratepayers who were for or against the pool.

After a two-hour Q&A period, council moved into committee of a whole, where Mayor George Comrie tabled a motion if Whitestone was for or against financially contributing to the pool and wellness centre in Parry Sound.

Here is the conversation between council in five quotes:

“We asked all our ratepayers whether they were for or against Whitestone participating in the pool complex ... the current tally, according to Coun. Woods and I, is that 378 people have responded to that, of which 318 or 84 per cent are against our financial involvement in the pool and 60 ratepayers or 16 per cent are in favour of our financial involvement. Our other observation is that it's not a cottager versus a local response,” said Coun. Joe Lamb.

“I've tried to be professional and not create an environment that creates conflict among ratepayers and council ... it's about a vision. We may not all have the same vision for this community, but it doesn't mean that we all can't move forward from this in a positive manner,” said Coun. Beth Gorham-Matthews.

“As visionary leaders in the community, I urge council to support participation in the wellness and pool centre … it really did bother me to see all the divisiveness that came out of, especially on Facebook ... not just on those medias, but throughout the community this has been an earth shattering event — I've never seen anything like it in my 43 years living in this particular location,” said Coun. Joe McEwen.

“The general consensus that I've received from everyone except for specifically three people that I've spoke to is 'No, we do not want to be part of this,' … It's almost a guarantee that we are going to financially contribute to the project, but it should be a one-time donation fee as far as I'm concerned,” said Coun. Brian Woods.

“This looked like a really good opportunity for West Parry Sound and as you can appreciate the opportunity came relatively quickly; it's been talked about for 20 years. There have been other projects attempting to get something going on this that haven't materialized for various reasons, but many of us see this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get such a facility,” said Comrie.

Comrie and councillors McEwen and Gorham-Matthews voted in favour of financially contributing to the Wellness Centre and Pool project while councillors Lamb and Woods voted against.

Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.

Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star