Perth council passed a motion to speak with neighbouring municipalities about the possibility of submitting an application to the provincial Investing in Canada Plan. The $17 million in funding would help fund a new regional community centre in town as discussed at a special committee of the whole meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 21.
Council is hoping the grant will be able to cover the total cost of $25 million for the centre that will feature a full ice rink and a pool. The grant is some of the last provincial funding the town is expected to receive as the Ford government continues to make cuts.
“This is the last grant money from Queen’s Park we’re going to see for a long time,” Mayor John Fenik said.
Mayor Fenik and Deputy Mayor Ed McPherson attended a meeting at Queen’s Park to answer some of the questions surrounding the latest funding changes.
“In my entire career I’ve never seen every minister present and along with the Premier,” Deputy Mayor McPherson said. ‘They said we’re here to help, but there’s no money.”
The deadline for the grant application is only a few weeks away and before council decides to put in a grant application they plan to speak with neighbouring municipalities to join forces.
“While there’s a short window where I think there’s an incredible opportunity with this application and it involves our political colleagues in the township coming aboard with us,” Mayor Fenik said. “This is a bright ship that will sail and we won’t see it come back to port for many, many years.”
Treasurer Brian Burns said the ICIP is “a significant amount of money for a town this size.”
Council discussed using a public private partnership to pay for the community centre if the application was denied.
“If we don’t get the grant money we have no choice but to go ahead with it using money from other sources,” Mayor Fenik said.
“There are people who are willing and ready to raise money in our community, that could set off half of what the cost could be,” Councillor Judy Brown said.
“What’s really scary is we don’t know what the province is going to hand us. Like a couple of days ago they changed the whole frame of operation of conservation authorities without any warning. We’re still going to get unknowns thrown at us big-time.”
After the meeting Chief Administrative Officer Ronald Ladd said public private partnerships are “the way of the future” to make up for lack of government funding.