A request from Montague Township to have input into the management of Smiths Falls recreation facilities has received a sympathetic hearing from town councillors.
During discussions surrounding a new five-year cost-sharing arrangement to allow access by township residents to Smiths Falls’ two arenas, Montague councillors suggested that a joint recreational advisory panel be established. The proposed panel would allow input from Montague representatives, as well as the other four neighbouring municipalities subject to the cost-sharing agreement: Rideau Lakes, Drummond-North Elmsley, Elizabethtown Kitley and Merrickville-Wolford.
Smiths Falls Chief Administrative Officer Malcolm Morris presented draft terms of reference for the “Joint Municipal Recreation Advisory Panel” at an April 10 meeting of council’s Committee of the Whole. The terms of reference were drafted by Montague Clerk/Deputy Administrator Jasmin Ralph in cooperation with Smiths Falls town staff. At an April 4 meeting of Montague Township council, members decided to wait until the other five municipalities subject to the cost-sharing agreement, including Smiths Falls, had commented on the proposed advisory panel before voting on the agreement.
Reporting to Smiths Falls councillors April 10, Morris said, “We do believe there is tremendous value in engaging with our neighbours.” He said the idea for the joint advisory panel was raised by Montague Township, and that representatives from the other townships were “not as interested.”
“We have Montague that wants it, but no one else wants it?” asked Councillor Chris Cummings. “How’s that going to work?”
Morris said the other townships would be encouraged to participate in the panel, but that if only some decided to be included, the panel would still have value. “I think it will pay dividends in terms of building relationships,” he said.
“If it’s valuable for one, it’s valuable for all,” Cummings agreed.
The draft terms of reference for the advisory panel state that its purpose is to “advise the Town of Smiths Falls on the aspects of recreation affecting the municipalities entered into the joint recreation services agreement.”
In response from a question from Smiths Falls councillor Jay Brennan, Morris said Perth already has a joint advisory panel with the neighbouring municipalities whose residents use Perth’s recreation facilities. Morris said town staff are hopeful that a new five-year cost-sharing agreement can be put in place by the end of April. Montague Township will be required to pay $50,000 a year toward the running of the two Smiths Falls arenas in order to provide its residents with access to those facilities.
The most recent cost-sharing agreement expired Dec. 31, 2016.