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Survey says: Collingwood residents want to use asset sale money to pay debt

The results are in from a recent survey asking the public how it would like to see the $18 million from the sale of Collingwood's airport and electric utility spent
Collingwood Town Hall Erika Engel/CollingwoodToday

More than 750 people responded to a survey asking for public opinion on how to spend the proceeds from the sale of Collingwood’s airport and electric utility.

The survey ran from April 20 to June 30, and attracted 444 comments from the 761 responses.

Paying down debt was the number one choice for 316 respondents to the survey, according to the results included in a staff report prepared for the November 28 Strategic Initiatives Committee.

The survey included 11 options plus an open-ended question asking residents to share their ideas.

There were also 29 comments related to paying down debt, two of which were not in favour, the rest were supportive of the town using the proceeds to pay debt.

It is estimated the town will receive about $18.6 million from the sale of the airport and the electric utility.

The second most popular selection on the survey was the Collingwood Terminals with 234 responses and 36 comments. However, 19 of those comments were in favour of demolishing the terminals and using the land for an arts centre or green space.

According to the staff report, there were “several” comments urging council to “make a decision about the terminals and enact it.”

The waterfront master plan reserve fund was third on the list with 210 responses and 27 comments. The reserve fund would be a savings account the town could draw from for the list of projects included in the waterfront master plan.

The fourth most popular option was to save the funds in a hospital reserve fund, with 203 responses in favour of saving the funds for the future Collingwood hospital.

The remaining seven options included 127 votes for extending services to the spit (Millennium Park), 95 votes to establish an internal loan fund, 78 votes for buying a property in the proximity of downtown and the waterfront area to preserve public access, 70 votes to save the money in a working capital reserve fund, 63 votes to put the money in the lifecycle replacement reserve fund for the town’s assets, 47 votes for a legacy fund, and 38 votes for an accommodation study.

The working capital reserve fund is used to cover contingency funding for emergencies, temporary cash shortfalls, and unpredictable one-time expenses. The town has been paying for the judicial inquiry from this fund, and has used the balance of the reserve.

The lifecycle replacement reserve fund is used to pay for expenses related to the replacement or rehabilitation of the town’s existing capital infrastructure (buildings, parks, sports fields, roads, sidewalks, facilities, and etc)

A legacy fund would see the money invested and the investment income could be used as community grants, or for projects or larger needs in the community. You can read more about the options here.

Based on staff analysis of the comments, most of the survey respondents who left a comment were indicating support for arts, culture, and theatre in town (189 comments).

There were also 38 comments supporting road repairs, and 24 comments supporting a recreation/community multi-use facility. There were 21 comments supporting trail repairs.

Once the report is received by the committee on Nov. 28, then council on Dec. 9, there will be public meetings on the issue, and potentially a coffee with council session to gather more public input on what to do with the asset sale proceeds. The dates of the public meetings have not yet been determined.