Five Erin projects moving forward with $83,750 Blue Triton grant

ERIN – Town staff have determined how to spend $83,750 in grant funds from Blue Triton.

Council approved spending the cash on five project recommendations brought forward by staff on April 13:

• supplying electric vehicle chargers at MacMillan Park with hydro (the town already has the chargers) for $15,000;
• buying and installing outdoor fitness equipment (including a recumbent bike, elliptical, and low-impact motion circuit) at Centre 2000 at a cost of $38,750;
• movie night equipment for outdoor summer and indoor winter screenings at a cost of $10,000;
• water filling stations for $15,000; and
• a $5,000 Canada Day fireworks show at Centre 2000.

The choices were largely supported by councillors with the exception of some questions about suitability.

Councillor Bridget Ryan questioned if funding water filling stations with money from a water bottling company was contradictory.

“There’s no problem for Blue Triton for us not having plastic water bottles?” she asked.

Town infrastructure director Nick Colucci said there wasn’t.

Ryan also brought up the fact that Orton has fireworks on Canada Day, but councillor John Brennan said more fireworks will be “for the benefit” of those missing out on the Orton display.

He suggested the town provide warning ahead of Canada Day celebrations to prepare people with pets, considering concerns about fireworks from those with livestock in rural areas.

Staff recommendations felt “a bit random” to councillor Cathy Aylard.

She questioned if they contributed to shaping the town’s future, and suggested money should be focused on longer-term initiatives.

Aylard suggested grant dollars instead be spent on revitalizing the downtown and creating “inspirational public places” following construction related to the town’s wastewater treatment plant. The recommendations, she suggested, should go back to staff for more evaluation.

“That will take time, but in the long run, maybe it’s worthwhile,” Aylard said.

Brennan responded with a dissenting opinion, saying such projects of extreme importance shouldn’t be left to grants.

“Traditionally you use grant money to do sort of one-off projects,” Brennan said in part. “I think they should be an integral part of our budgeting process.”

Colucci defended the project choices, saying they are not only environmentally friendly, but will be assets the town will have for a long time.

He also said the projects “will add to the community spirit.”

Councillor Jamie Cheyne agreed with the “broad spectrum of items throughout the town.”

“These are all good ideas,” he said, adding residents in Erin and Hillsburgh would benefit.

A vote carried the recommendation 3-1, with councillor Aylard abstaining.