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Hall revenue tops list of concerns at town meeting

by Chris Daponte

MOOREFIELD - Many residents agree more needs to be done to increase revenue at the Maryborough community centre, and they say the solution starts at the township office.

Several of the 50-plus people who attended the April 28 town hall meeting at the community centre in Moorefield said a better website, more marketing, and improved communication would go a long way to increasing the number of rentals at the building.

“You’d probably have a better chance of renting this place out if [prospective renters] didn’t have to listen to that stupid answering machine at the office,” one resident said, calling the system “ridiculous.”

Judging by the laughs that comment received, others in the audience clearly agreed.

Mayor Bruce Whale noted the answering machine system is also a “pet peeve” of councillor Neil Driscoll’s. Whale said council is looking into possible changes.

The mayor opened the discussion by explaining the utilities alone at the community centre exceed its revenues, but several residents seemed dismayed when informed the township does little to market the building other than rely on its own website and on word of mouth.

Someone suggested staff could do more marketing work. Councillor Andy Knetsch said he thought that is “a great idea. We’re going to address that.”

Resident Jeremy Culling said someone he knows tried to rent the PMD arena in Drayton and though its hall was already booked for the date he wanted, township staff never even mentioned the possibility of renting the Moorefield hall instead.

Knetsch acknowledged the township needs to improve communication and training to ensure that does not happen.

Resident Ron Ellis suggested township buildings are over staffed, but Whale replied there is no longer staff dedicated to the Moorefield building; it is looked after by staff from the PMD arena.

Some suggested there could be more walking and fitness programs in the hall, especially for seniors, but resident Cliff Campbell lamented the problem is there is no longer a volunteer workforce on which to rely.

Several others at the meeting agreed and a few wondered,  if things continue as they are, if it could mean the demise of the community centre.

“We honestly have not considered closing it,” councillor Mike Downey replied when asked the question point blank. “That has never been the intent.”

Resident Dan McIntyre suggested township officials need to consider that the Moorefield building should not be viewed as a source of profit, but rather as a service they are providing to the community.

Whale replied it is indeed a service, but it would be nice if the building at least came close to breaking even financially.

* * *

Other topics discussed at the town hall meeting include:

- a general explanation of where tax dollars are spent;

- converting all township road signs to read “Mapleton,” instead of the old township names (several residents noted there are still many that read “Peel” or “Maryborough”);

- the actual cost of the wastewater lagoon system (several officials said the cost is about $1.6-million, plus a debenture for the land purchase);

- how the new wastewater expansion will affect users in Moorefield and Drayton (there appeared to be some confusion whether there will be another capital cost charged to users or whether they would be charged an increased rate, or neither);

- whether or not the township is proceeding with water meters (Finance Director Mike Givens said the intent is not to proceed unless the municipality receives a grant to help cover the cost);

- the condition of local sidewalks and roads, some of which residents said are in terrible shape;

- what the plan is to pay for new industrial land in Drayton (Givens said the purchase is covered by the general tax levy and the township will generate revenue upon the sale of that land);

- why the privilege of selling ads on the PMD arena  boards was granted solely to one user group, without any benefit to the municipality (Driscoll agreed with one resident who suggested that showed a lack of initiative on the part of township staff); and

- how grass cutting last summer at a local cemetery “plastered” grass all over headstones (township officials agreed that is unacceptable and noted they have approved the purchase of a rear-discharge mower and hope to prevent that in the future).

Whale told the crowd township officials are not yet certain they have the right format for the town hall meetings, which they’ve wanted to try for a while now.

The format would likely be refined over the next few meetings, the mayor said.

 

Vol 44 Issue 19

 
 

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