Collingwood council is one step closer to allocating the proceeds from the sale of COLLUS and the regional airport.
Council, sitting as the strategic initiatives committee, voted for several different spending options for the $17.3 million fund at a meeting last night (March 29).
Of the eight spending recommendations brought to council by town staff, six were unanimously accepted as presented including:
- $4 million put aside for buying land
- $3 million to extend municipal services (water and sewer) and enhance Heritage Drive
- $1 million to pay outstanding internal loans
- $1 million to repay a shortfall in the working capital reserve fund
- $885,000 for a shortfall in the waterfront master plan fund
- $500,000 to cover a shortage in the lifecycle replacement reserve fund
Staff proposed putting aside $1 million for the future Collingwood General and Marine Hospital Redevelopment, which council increased to $2 million by a vote of 5-3. Councillor Tina Comi wasn’t at the meeting, and Councillors Yvonne Hamlin, Deb Doherty and Bob Madigan were opposed to doubling the hospital reserve allocation.
Councillor Kathy Jeffery proposed the increase.
“This is showing the province we’re serious and showing the hospital we understand our responsibility,” said Jeffery, adding it was an example she hoped would inspire neighbouring municipalities to follow.
“I appreciate the thought, but I don’t think an extra million will influence the province at all,” said Madigan. “If we need the money later we can take it [from reserves].”
Staff originally proposed putting $6.5 million from the sale proceeds into a legacy fund for future investments and projects.
Council, however, voted for further allocating the remaining money, which totalled $5.5 million after the increase to the hospital fund.
After a few motions on the table, the ones that stuck (though none unanimously) were as follows:
- $1 million for a “greening” fund, meant to cover environmental initiatives related to capital projects in town
- $1.5 million to art and culture legacy fund (geared toward funding capital projects)
- $3 million in a fund dedicated to a future multi-use recreation facility
There was an attempt by Councillors Mariane McLeod and Deb Doherty to put aside money for the future of Collingwood Terminals building.
Doherty referred back to the results of a public survey undertaken by the town, stating the second-highest priority identified in those results (behind paying down debt) was the Collingwood Terminals building.
“The way the allocation is laid out now, we are left with $0 for the terminals,” she said.
Deputy Mayor Keith Hull argued the money set aside to bring services to the spit via Heritage Drive could be considered an investment in the terminal.
“Not having sewer and water has been a major setback [to redevelopment],” said Hull.
Councillor Steve Berman said it was easier to support a future multi-use facility over the Terminals redevelopment.
“We know we’re going to need one … we don’t know what the target of the terminals is,” he said.
Councillor Yvonne Hamlin was sad to see the proceeds divided up.
“I’m really disappointed we won’t have one big opportunity, we won’t have one big project that we can say this is our once-in-a-lifetime legacy project,” said Hamlin. “The more we divide up these funds … the less opportunity we have to do that.”
Council will have to vote on the allocations again at the next council meeting to ratify the decisions made at the March 29 Strategic Initiatives Committee meeting.