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Two sides clash on proposed upgrades at Eden Mills community hall

by Chris Daponte

BRUCEDALE - Two community groups would like to proceed as soon as possible with energy efficiency upgrades at the Eden Mills Community Hall, but it appears not everybody in the village is on board with the plans.

Several Guelph-Eramosa councillors on Monday night commended project manager Tim Laing and architect Charles Simon for their vision for the hall, which includes landscaping and solar energy panels beside the building.

“It does look very pretty,” councillor John Scott told the delegation after viewing artist renderings of exterior plans.

Last month council offered its support for a $153,000 grant application through the Ontario Trillium Foundation to help pay for ceiling insulation, wall insulation and siding, and new windows.

But resident Michael Coull said many residents have an issue with the work going ahead without their consultation.

“Not everybody in the village agrees with what’s happening here,” Coull told council.

He questioned the placement of “huge” raised solar panels on the ground adjacent to the building and the street, saying they should instead be incorporated in building designs.

Coull said falling snow from the panels is also concern, but the biggest issue seemed to be what he called a lack of communication about the hall upgrades, which are being organized by the village’s Millpond Association and Community Club.

“We don’t know what the village wants,” Coull said. “This can’t possibly be the only option available.”

Chris Wilson, president of the Eden Mills Community Club, said notices were sent to over 130 households in the village and the group hosted two public meetings about the project - one in July and one in September.

Laing called the upgrades a “must-do project” and told council if the work does not proceed, the community won’t be able to afford the hall in 20 years.

Mayor Chris White said he has received several calls from residents wondering why they were not informed about the plans. He suggested the community club host a public meeting to get the word out.

“I really don’t want this to be knocked off the rails because people say they didn’t know about it,” White said.

Simon replied the issue with holding a meeting now is organizers are “up against the timeline” for grants from the province and to get the work started this year.

He said if the project is delayed too long, the solar energy portion could be lost. Simon also noted 28 of 30 individuals who attended the summer meeting voted in favour of proceeding with the energy upgrades.

White said he understands but the issue is the township, as co-owner of the hall, must try to provide notice to all taxpayers in the community.

“We don’t want the process to be this issue,” White said. “That hall is owned by everybody.”

Laing suggested the community club mail out notices and host a meeting in two weeks.

Coull tried to argue for at least three weeks notice, but Simon and councillor Doug Breen said two weeks is plenty of notice.

“If anybody in town doesn’t know about it now, they’re living under a rock,” Breen said, adding council is getting too hung up on the process. “Let’s get it done quick.”

 Eventually all sides agreed to a pubic meeting on Nov. 22 at 7pm at the Eden Mills hall.

 

November 11, 2011

 
 

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