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New stove for Rocklyn Arena burns Grey Highlands council

Councillors were cooking up a plan when staff noted the current stove has been repaired and is working again, prompting a councillor to ask: 'why are we replacing it?'
Rocklyn Arena
Rocklyn Arena in Grey Highlands.

A plan to spend $4,500 on a new stove for the kitchen at Rocklyn Arena has been put on the back burner by Grey Highlands council.

At its special budget meeting on March 2, council found itself in an intense debate and discussion about the stove project. The stove, projected to cost $4,500 to be funded from the municipality’s facilities reserve fund, was one of 24 budget items for council’s consideration during the budget proceedings.

The item resulted in a lengthy debate and required four separate resolutions/amendments before the final decision was made.

The discussion kicked off when Deputy Mayor Dane Nielsen sought to amend the initial motion, which would have included $4,500 from the facilities reserve for the project in the 2023 budget. Nielsen explained that staff had indicated quotes for the new stove had come in significantly higher at more than $8,000. Nielsen sought to reset the maximum cost of the project to $10,000 and to have the project funded from the special Euphrasia reserve account.

“There should be enough in that reserve to cover the stove,” said Nielsen.

The deputy mayor’s amendment resulted in an immediate objection from Mayor Paul McQueen. The mayor said he felt it was inappropriate for council to commit funds from the Euphrasia reserve without first consulting with the community.

“We need to take a pause on this and talk to the community,” said McQueen. “That is money that they raised. Is that how they want it spent?”

The issue was further complicated when Director of Community and Economic Development Michele Harris reported to council that the “problem stove” that is currently at the arena had been fixed and is “fully functional and fully usable.” Harris said she was preparing a report that will outline the situation with the stove that will come to council in the near future.

“If there is nothing wrong with it, why are we replacing it?” asked Coun. Paul Allen, who noted that council could, at any time, okay the stove’s replacement if so recommended by staff.

The stove discussion brought the budget meeting to a virtual standstill and meeting chair Coun. Tom Allwood appealed for council to get on with a decision on the matter.

“We seem to be digging ourselves into a hole here,” said Allwood. “I don’t want to see us not completing our task today because of this one item.”

Eventually, McQueen moved a motion to defer the item. This motion was defeated in a 6-1 vote. Nielsen then split his original amendment into two parts - the cost increase to the upper limit of $10,000 and the use of the Euphrasia reserve for the financing. Both of these were then defeated by council in separate votes.

This led council back to the main motion, which was to include $4,500 in the budget for the project. McQueen sought to amend the motion to remove it from the budget. However, Clerk Raylene Martell said that would be a “contrary motion” and advised council that an amendment to remove the item was not necessary, because defeating the motion would have the same effect.

Council ultimately voted 5-2 against including the stove project in the budget. Nielsen and Coun. Nadia Dubyk were opposed.

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About the Author: Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Chris Fell covers The Blue Mountains and Grey Highlands under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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