Tuesday, May 19, 2009  
   Volume 79 - Issue 20 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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Quote of the Week
“We know we need to make changes and we now these changes need to come quickly.”
- Shane Stewart  
- on economic revitalization   

 

 
Though no official decision has been made, pending a motion planned for the May 19 council meeting, council discussed the matter at their May 12 Committee of the Whole meeting and appeared to have a majority agreement –– they aimed at mid-August for officially closing the older wing of the Crowsnest Centre.
The older wing is the three-story portion on the west side of the facility, which houses the Food Bank, the Chinook Educational Consortium, Adult Education, Adult Literacy, and the Air Cadets, among others.
“I’m sure we know what the outcome of this is going to be,” said Councillor Dean Ward before the discussion began, and indeed it fell on familiar lines.
Councillor Ward initially suggested July 30 as the closure date, but Councillor David Cole indicated that mid-August would be better so that the Consortium could finish its curriculum beforehand.
Councillor Larry Mitchell questioned why a majority of council still wanted to close part of the facility when it was shown to be paying for itself. He also asked who would pay to help the Consortium move.
Responding was Councillor Ian MacLeod. He said that groups in that wing would have to find a place on their own or else come to council for help. “We’re closing an eye-sore,” he said, “which is long overdue.”
Councillor Gary Taje noted that council had gone to some expense in 2008 to speak with the tenants in the older wing. According to them, he said, “the facility is functioning in their best interests. Until we can replace it with something better, it’s serving our needs. There’s really no need to say this facility is not meeting our needs, the community’s needs, and the tenants’.”
He said that he feels council is looking after other people’s interests instead of the community’s or the tenants’. He said that he sees no reason to close the old wing until council has a clearcut plan for where the tenants can move. “Doing that beforehand, I believe, is irresponsible,” said Councillor Taje.
 
He added that the Crowsnest Centre property is currently rezoned as one single unit of drive-in commercial. He said that he feels closing the old wing is just the first step in a process that would end with closing the entire facility.
Councillor Ward acknowledged that everyone knows where he stands on the Centre issue, but said that he doesn’t feel a majority of council would agree to close down the newer section.
Mayor John Irwin noted that the Food Bank is seeing greater need than ever right now and is under financial duress. He encouraged people to support the Food Bank and not to support kicking them out on the street.
Councillor John Salus spoke with the Pass Herald the next day. When asked if council has any specific arrangements with any of the tenants on where to move them, he said that no such arrangements were in place.
He said that the Educational Consortium would have to move to the M.D. McEachern facility, despite the Consortium’s insistence that the MDM would not meet their needs.
“Where else are they going to go?” said Councillor Salus.
He acknowledged that parking is an issue at the MDM, and said that he would support using municipal funds to level off a larger portion of land around the building to create more parking.
When asked about the five year lease the Consortium currently has for their space at the Centre, Councillor Salus said that council has received a legal opinion that the lease is not valid. The legal opinion, he said, indicates that the Crowsnest Centre Society has no legal right to sign a binding lease on behalf of the municipality.
Councillor Salus added that he would encourage the Food Bank to move to its own building either in Coleman or Bellevue. He said that half the Food Bank’s clients come from one and half from the other.
He said that there is no point to the Food Bank being centralized because people have to travel to reach it anyway, and he added that if the Food Bank’s clients could afford to live in Blairmore, they would already be doing so.
Councillor Ward is expected to make the official closure date motion at the Tuesday, May 19 council meeting.
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