Tuesday, December 1, 2009  
   Volume 79 - Issue 48 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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Quote of the Week
“I think we’re in so deep we have to go along with it.”
- Councillor Ian MacLeod  
- on funding the wading   
pool project   

 

 
With only a month remaining until council has mandated that the Crowsnest Centre Society turn over operation of the facility to the municipality, a changeover scheduled to take place no later than January 1, the transition is underway.
At the council meeting on Tuesday, November 24, Director of Finance Marion Vanoni presented council with three outstanding bills from the Crowsnest Centre, for natural gas, phones, and electricity. The three bills totalled approximately $22,000. The Centre Society indicated in a letter that at this point they were unable to cover the costs.
Lisa Sygutek, chairperson of the society's board, says that the Centre has now lost the majority of its lease tenants due to the constant threat of closure, and has also lost a number of booked functions, significantly reducing their cash flow. She says that the board, leading up to the end of year transition, has been forced to lay off the staff at the Centre as well.
Vanoni indicated to council that the municipality guarantees the Centre's natural gas contract with Nexen, but that the municipality does not have a contract with Telus for the phones, nor with Epcor for the electricity at the Centre. The natural gas was scheduled to be turned off at the Centre on November 16, she said, but the company was persuaded to hold off to the end of the month so that council could be given the chance to make a resolution.
Councillor Ian MacLeod made a motion to pay the Nexen bill using money from reserves, and to return the other two outstanding bills to the Centre. The motion also stated that the municipality would open accounts with Shaw for phone service and with Easymax for electricity, switching control and payment of those utilities to the municipality for the future.
Currently there is approximately $23,000 remaining in reserves from the $35,000 insurance payout received by the municipality for the ruined Centre boiler earlier this year.
 
Councillor Gary Taje requested that the motion be split into its separate parts, as he supported parts of it but not others. He said that he felt council should be working with the board to absolve the financial situation and move on with the Centre under municipal control in 2010, rather than putting the other outstanding bills back on the society.
"I think there's room to work with the Crowsnest Centre board," he said. "We're looking at hurting people here. People who have only done what we expected them to." Whether they were successful in that role or not, he said, they did the work as volunteers and council should work with them to see an end to their role.
He made a motion to split Councillor MacLeod's motion into separate parts, but this was defeated by a tie vote. Council then passed the original, overall motion by a 4-2 vote, Mayor Irwin and Councillor Mitchell opposed. Councillor John Salus was absent with permission.
Sygutek says that the board is attempting to settle its financial obligations in order to wrap up its time at the Centre, which has been overseen by volunteers since 1989.
"It's unfortunate that we can no longer make the facility viable or keep it operational," she says. "It's such a no-win situation for our community. Nobody won here. I think it's safe to say that the society is worn out. We're tired. The society has been under a tremendous amount of pressure."
She says that the society is attempting to liquidate its own assets in order to pay off its debts, an action mandated by their bylaws. The society owns essentially all of the furniture and equipment inside the Centre, she says.
The society has offered the municipality first right of refusal to purchase their assets, so that the municipality can keep everything in the building and continue operating it. If the municipality does not wish to purchase the assets, she says, the society will attempt to liquidate them elsewhere in order to clear up their financial obligations. Council has not yet made a decision on this matter.
At the September 15 council meeting, Council passed a resolution, presented by Councillor David Cole, to honor all current bookings at the Centre.
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   Volume 79 - Issue 48 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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