By Dan Rankin
At their meeting on Tuesday, Perth South Council was determined that South Huron should honour the spirit of their 50/50 ownership of the Kirkton-Woodham Pool and pay half the cost of needed accessibility renovations for the pool bathrooms.
Last year, Perth South was successful in securing a Trillium Foundation grant worth $54,450 to cover their half of the project. But they were dismayed to learn that South Huron Council had agreed to include only $27,225 in their 2016 proposed budget for the pool’s washroom renovation project, according to a letter sent to Treasurer Rebecca Clothier by South Huron CAO Steve McAuley on Feb. 4.
“This amount was calculated based on the grant monies received being credited to the overall project and the remainder being split equal between the two partners,” he wrote.
“I’m not sure what part of 50/50 they don’t understand because this looks like 75/25 to me,” Perth South Deputy Mayor Jim Aitcheson said. “I would no way ever support what that letter says. I don’t care what happens. I’m not subsidizing South Huron.”
According to Clothier, Perth South made it clear in their Trillium grant request that the funds would be applied for their own 50 percent portion of the project. South Huron had opted to apply for a grant on another project at that time, she said. Coun. Melinda Zurbrigg, who sits on the pool committee board, said she believed their grant request for improvements at the Dashwood Community Centre had been unsuccessful.
The Kirkton pool renovations have to be done, “to meet the accessibility standards,” Zurbrigg said.
“This isn’t because we want to make it pretty,” she said. “The whole thing is just mind-boggling. It’s really frustrating. We’ve known that this was in the works. We’ve had to do this for years.”
“It’s really ludicrous that they even think they can get away with this,” Coun. Sam Corriveau said.
“Their 50 percent share has been included in the capital budget in prior years,” Clothier said. “This would be a decrease, suddenly.” According to the terms of the Trillium grant, the renovation project is due to be started by June, with the money needing to be spent by the end of 2016.
“If we fail to go through with the project, we’re at risk of losing the grant,” she said.
Council opted to defer action until March 1 so more communication between the municipalities could take place.