MAPLETON – Alma Optimist Club representatives attended council’s Nov. 26 meeting to present a financial review of the Alma Community Centre (ACC), but discussion focused on recent rumours the township would be assuming control of the ACC next year.
Club representatives Bruce Whale and Amanda Reid asked council for improved communication between the club and the township moving forward.
“What is not needed are the rumours and comments to some of our members that were circulating earlier this year suggesting that our operating agreement was invalid and that the municipality would be assuming control of the operations of the ACC next year,” the report to council read.
“Such an approach creates mistrust and apprehension and makes the Optimist Club members feel unappreciated and unwanted.”
Councillor Michael Martin commended the Optimist Club for being direct in voicing its concern in the report.
“It’s not often that there’s a little bit of sass in a report like that, but I enjoy it because it’s very direct,” said Martin.
“I think during my time here on council, it’s always been the communication … specific to the community operating committee or whatever regarding that building. So it certainly seems that the past year or two, that’s gotten a lot better.”
Whale agreed, noting there has been an improvement in communication with the township since CAO Manny Baron was hired in January of 2018.
“At the time you realize that the Optimists own the ballpark, we own the skating rink in Alma and we operate the hall and yet, there was no communication at all other than these rumours that were going around,” said Whale.
“And people were getting pretty upset … asking us if we knew and nobody really approached us. So that’s why I wanted to bring it to your attention.”
Mayor Gregg Davidson stated communication with the club is very important to council. He also volunteered to take part in more meetings with the club in the future.
“Very important that we do have that communication in mind,” said Davidson.
“I was happy to join the last meeting and sitting around there and look forward to more meetings that are coming up whenever you have them. I don’t mind coming out to those meetings and sitting down to make sure we have that relationship and have a conversation continually.”
Whale also voiced concern about approved funding in the township’s capital budget to install LED lighting at the ACC.
The Optimist Club has two outstanding requests for capital projects: retrofit to LED bulbs and repainting of the interior hall, foyers and washrooms.
“In reading through the agenda, I was looking for the budget and couldn’t seem to find the whole budget. But I did notice that the Alma Hall, we have $5,000 allocated last year for the lighting upgrade. I don’t see anything in this year’s budget,” said Whale.
Once the lighting is installed, Whale said the club will see a return on the investment in under two years.
“In 1.2, 1.3 years we get our money back if we upgrade to the LEDs,” said Whale.
Public works director Sam Mattina clarified, “That is in the 2019 budget. It is being worked on in the background. And so the money is still there. It just doesn’t show on the 2020 going forward forecast that … you saw, but it is still in place for 2019 and will be utilized.”