Radio group withdraws request for $50,000 loan from Centre Wellington

Centre Wellington councillors were ready on Monday to debate a recommendation to lend a proposed radio station $50,000 – but that recommendation was pulled from the council agenda at the beginning of the meeting.

Mayor Joanne Ross-Zuj announced shortly after convening the meeting that the radio station group had asked that the request for the money be removed from the agenda. There was no indication if or when it would return for council deliberation.

The township’s chief administrative officer, Michael Wood, said in an interview on Tuesday morning that the request to withdraw the recommendation came on Monday before the evening council meeting.

“They were going to seek other sources,” Wood said of the Centre Wellington Community Radio Inc., also known as the Grand 92.9 FM. It is a not-for profit organization that has been attempting since 2009 to get on the air. It recently obtained a licence from the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission.

In October, council agreed to lease space for a broadcast antenna on its newly erected water tower on Gartshore Street at the north end of Fergus.

The problem for the radio station was it learned after the tower was erected the only way to fasten an antenna to it is by magnet hardware because the new tower cannot accommodate welding.

Township treasurer Wes Snarr said in his report to council the radio company was incorporated in 2009, it received financing from the Community Futures Development Corporation, received approval of the financing for the purchase of the broadcasting equipment, including a studio and transmitter site, and finalized a lease on the studio site.

“The agreement has been vetted by the township’s legal counsel,” Snarr said in his report.

His recommendation was for council to approve a loan of $50,000 at three per cent, with the station beginning to pay it back in monthly installments of just over $1,025 a month starting on July 1. That would be on top of the lease payments for using the tower. Those are $400 a month.

The report to council, including a lengthy legal agreement, was 32 pages.

The Advertiser attempted to obtain a comment from Scott Jensen and he responded to an email.

He was asked why the station withdrew its request. His response was, “We reviewed our options, and given that we are a community organization trying to put on a radio station for the enjoyment of the people living in Centre Wellington, we felt under the circumstances it was best for us to look at other options for funding our solution.”

He added, “We are not interested in getting into a political battle; it is counterproductive.”