Editorial – An opportunity

Chris Clegg

Village of Donnelly Mayor Myrna Lanctot says communities in the Smoky River region need to work together to provide recreation programs and services.

Actually, all regions with small communities need to work together. It is ridiculous for each small community to provide indoor pools, ski hills, and golf courses. The expense is too high. Taxpayers can’t afford all the bells and whistles local politicians want to provide.

Building these facilities is one thing, operating them is another. The indoor pool in High Prairie loses about $500,000 a year, pre-COVID. It’s not chicken feed.

At the Town of McLennan’s meeting May 10, Councillor Dwayne Stout said council needed to have a discussion about the H.W. Fish arena. Due to lack of money, council closed the arena last winter and has no intentions of opening this coming winter. No senior team and no minor hockey are the biggest reasons. Without a major tenant paying bills to lessen the deficit [all arenas lose money] it makes it impossible to justify its opening.

Therefore, Stout is proposing to sell the assets including the boards and ice resurfacing machine. Mayor Michele Fournier added the ice plant.

While it is sad to see the arena close, perhaps there is an opportunity. As Lanctot says, the region needs to share recreation services.

So, how about installing a floor to be used for indoor soccer, basketball, etc. Form a regional indoor soccer association and get the ball rolling. A proper floor can provide some new recreation opportunities.

The money raised from selling the assets just might pay for the new floor, or at least a majority. At the very least, the money is there to apply for a matching grant thereby doubling the cash asset.

It is a sad day to see the Fish Tank not filled with hockey players and fans enjoying our great game.

However, it does not have to be the end for McLennan to provide different forms of recreation.

A head-scratcher

The life of a politician is never easy, especially when it comes to budgets.

At the Town of High Prairie’s budget meeting May 4, a real head-scratcher occurred.

Council decided to not give its employees a one per cent cost of living allowance. This, after staff received zero per cent last year. In essence, council turned down a one per cent increase over two years.

The proposed increase would have cost council $32,000.

In his report, CAO Rod Risling added “the Town of High Prairie has fallen behind since their last adjustment in 2014” regarding pay.

Later in the meeting, council decided to raise taxes two per cent to raise $74,149 which will go into reserves for future projects. No money for staff.

We would never say council does not value the work of its staff. This is why this decision is such a head-scratcher.

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