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   


A Fragile Lens- Nathen GallagherIn one sense the Crowsnest Centre issue is like the monster in a bad horror movie franchise. Every time you think it’s safe to poke the corpse, it jumps back up and keeps on going.
With council now looking to a mid-August closure for the old half of the Centre, the matter may be winding its way to a seemingly inevitable 4-3 finish, though of course nothing is written in stone. Let’s take a look at how the issue has developed over the last year and a half.
In January of 2008, the Crowsnest Centre Society spoke to council as part of that year’s budget deliberations. The Centre was coming off a difficult year, their financial record keeping was not in good shape, and they admitted to council that they had faced some management issues.
The society told council that with their new manager, they had developed a three-year plan to become self-sufficient. A majority of council did not believe this plan would work, and appeared to not believe that the society could be trusted to operate the Centre efficiently.
The year that followed was not pretty. Council passed the Centre’s 2008 budget despite some councillors not knowing they were doing so, and a confusing plebiscite to keep the Centre was defeated.
The Centre was rezoned as a drive-in commercial property despite opposition, and council voted to close the old half pending meetings with its tenants. All of the tenants expressed a desire to remain at the Centre unless appropriate arrangements could be made.
A petition was made for an inquiry of council, partly over the Centre issue and partly over other concerns about council. This was found insufficient by the Minister of Municipal Affairs.
The Centre did not ask for any money in the 2009 budget, and their latest financial information, now properly gathered and organized, shows that they are essentially at a break-even position, nearly unheard of for a municipal faclity.
With this as the background, council is pressing forward with closing the old half of the Centre, the three-story section on the west end.
As far as I can tell, all sides in this matter are entrenched in their positions, fully equipped with blindfolds and headphones. Four councillors do not trust the Centre Society and the Centre Society does not trust four councillors. Antagonism, stubborness, and division rule the roosts.
Whatever councillors have said about their reasons, which seem to change from month to month, there are only two rational reasons for closing the old wing of the Centre.
The first is if council believes that the maintenance costs of this building will build over the years, even though right now they are obviously not unbearable. Even operating on an inefficient boiler, the Centre is easily making enough money to cover its costs.
The second is if council believes that the money that could be gained from selling that half of the property is more beneficial to the community than having that property and facility in public hands.
If either of these is the case, I can only wonder why no councillor has specifically said so.
... For the full story, see the May 19 issue of the Pass Herald.
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   Volume 79 - Issue 20 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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