By Dan Rankin
Mayors, councillors and staff from both the St. Pauls-based Perth South Council and the Exeter-based South Huron Council met at the Kirkton-Woodham Community Centre on Tuesday, Nov. 24. For some new councillors on both sides of the county line, it was their first time taking part in a joint meeting between the judicial bodies to discuss their shared property in Kirkton. Topics on the agenda included the closed Kirkton Area Landfill Site, the Kirkton-Woodham Pool, and the community centre itself.
South Huron Mayor Maureen Cole, who called the special meeting, presided over the discussions. She was buffered at the head table by Perth South Mayor Robert Wilhelm and South Huron CAO Genevieve Scharback.
South Huron Environment Services Manager Don Giberson kicked off the evening by presenting two reports on the closed Kirkton landfill site. Though a Ministry of the Environment inspection report into the landfill site was closed to the MOE’s satisfaction earlier this year, Giberson said annual costs associated with the site including “ongoing groundwater monitoring” will continue “probably in perpetuity.”
Presenting on behalf of the Kirkton-Woodham Pool Committee were chair Sonya Henderson and secretary Lori Bearss. They said the committee is in the middle of a Trillium Grant application process that would see more accessibility features, such as updated changerooms and a lift, installed at the pool
“I know we have to be in compliance by 2025,” Henderson said. “The parking lot and grades up to the pool have to be looked at as well. There’s too much of an incline. Right now our facility is not up to accessibility compliance. This is something we need to do to keep it viable and accessible for all.”
South Huron may also set aside budget funds for accessibility at the pool, she added. “We do also have some fundraising dollars that the Kirkton Woodham Optimists are holding for us,” Bearss said.
Bearss called the summer 2015 season a “very busy” one at the pool. Over 240 children received swimming lesson instruction, while 37 people participated in their “Aqua Fit” classes, and nine children were members of their swim team. They increased their hours on weekends, and are interested in further promoting their bronze cross and bronze medallion certification courses.
“We saw a lot of parents from communities we don’t normally see,” Henderson said. “That really helped us out a lot. I think our biggest problem last year was keeping up with staff.”
South Huron Community Services Manager Jo-Anne said 2015 was a bounce-back year after 2013, when the pool’s heater broke down. “The water was very, very cold and it really impacted the operations, the number of people coming out,” Fields said. “The parts were ordered but they didn’t come in until the end of the summer. In 2015, to entice people to come back, a motion was passed by council that passes would be offered at half price and that seemed to bring people back in.”
A 2016 budget projection for the pool showed provisions of $18,525 from each municipality contributing, along with registration and other donations, to a gross revenue of $58,050. After wages, maintenance and other expenses, the pool would show a net profit/loss of $0 for the year.
The final presentation was by Rob Morley, chair of the Kirkton-Woodham Community Centre board, and treasurer Tim Shute. The community centre currently receives about $7,500 in support per year from each municipality, but that number may need to go up in the future to keep up with renovation needs, they said.
“We have been doing some capital projects in the last couple of years to keep the facility in good shape,” Shute said, indicating some updates that have taken place on the building’s ceiling tiles, windows and lighting. “It’s being recommended to us now that we need to look at maybe upgrading some of our washroom facilities. Our toilets are old style high-water volume toilets, so that’ll be a bit of an upgrade.”
While the centre remains busy throughout most week days with community group meetings, weekend weddings and dances have become less popular than in year’s past, largely driven by provincial liquor regulations, they said. Speaking of booking the community centre, there was a bit of tension Tuesday evening as Shute pointed out that whoever had called the meeting had failed to book the building’s hall. “If you start to hear some noise behind us right now [in the kitchen], it will be the Girl Guides,” he said. “They are here Tuesday nights. I’m not sure how this meeting is even happening here tonight. No one booked this hall tonight, which is an over sight.”
Mayor Cole took the blame and apologized for not calling ahead to check on the availability of the hall.
Moving on, Morley estimates a $100,000 refurbishment of the centre’s parking lot will be needed sometime in the near future. “In your five year forecast, it’s probably in your best interest to rehabilitate the parking lot, because you’re going to lose it someday and then it’s going to be a lot more than $100,000,” he said.
Finally, as at least one community centre board member is required to be present whenever the centre holds a function, Morley requested the councils help them advertise their need for more volunteer members on the board to help fill those vacancies. “People aren’t volunteering like they used to,” he said.
Closing the meeting, Mayor Cole said she looked forward to conducting more meetings in Kirkton on an annual basis. Expect that one to be booked well in advance.