Combermere Community Centre hot topic at council

BARRY’S BAY – Madawaska Valley Township met for their regular council meeting on April 2.


Local resident, Margaret Maika made an appearance at the April 2 meeting to tell council she’s still concerned about safety issues and work that desperately needs to be completed at the Combermere Community Centre (CCC).
Maika had previously attended the last council meeting and had made several requests of council.
She returned April 2, disappointed and upset that not all of her requests had been acted upon, she told council.
Maika had previously asked that $13,500 for capital expenses for work that needs to be completed at the CCC be put back into the 2013 Municipal Budget. Secondly, to address the lack of accessibility at the centre, Maika asked the centre’s $69, 200, be drawn from the emergency preparedness reserve – to address the issue of a lack of accessibility. Thirdly, she asked council to clearly identify the CCC’s reserve.
She thanked council for recognising the CCC should have its own reserve, and the $3,000 that was allocated for that reserve, recently. She was also pleased to hear about the hiring of a new recreation director.
However, after stressing how important the issue of accessibility is, and how the centre desperately needs an abundance of work completed promptly, Maika let council know, she’s not pleased.
“I was shocked to see none of these projects have been put back – I’m disappointed and angry council has chose nto ignore the needs of community members and not give priority to the CCC,” Maika said. “You’re denying your community’s children, families and your neighbours.”
Maika also questioned council as to how other projects outside of Combermere have received much more attention and assistance, in comparison to the CCC.
After her previous appearance, Maika told council she felt as though no one was willing to take responsibility and ensure these critical tasks are completed.
“So, I went looking for the answer as to who is responsible,” she said. “I went looking for the answer to that age-old question, ‘where does the buck stop?’”
That Tuesday night, Maika came equipped with a diagram she had redrawn from a December 6, 2012 meeting, which outlined the corporate structure at the municipal level.
What she found, she told council, was that no one is above council.
“I think I found where the buck stops,” she said.
A full room of attendees would clap and roar after Maika’s delegation.
Councillor Shaun O’Reilly, who chaired the April 2 meeting in the absence of the mayor, acknowledged Maika’s concerns were fair and clear.
However, a person couldn’t be hired to complete the work Maika was asking for in two weeks time, O’Reilly said.
In addition, the 2013 budget has not passed yet, he stated.
Unfortunately, that means until the budget has passed, things cannot begin to be completed, he continued.
Money has been intended to help address the issues previously outlined O’Reilly went on to say.
“There’s no slower moving animal than municipal government as far as I’m concerned,” he said.
It’s not something to be proud of, but it’s a fact, he added.
O’Reilly assured Maika as soon as a person was hired, which is the intention of council, things will begin moving.Then, staff can access the funds that are currently set aside to help the CCC improve, he continued.
“We’re in the process of rectifying things – but it can’t all be completed in 10 days,” O’Reilly said.
In regards to concerns for funding, when funds are designated for something, monies will stay in that reserve until that project is completed, O’Reilly reiterated. To access funds from the emergency preparedness reserve, for instance, this requires a request from staff, and then for council to make a resolution, O’Reilly and Treasurer, Brenda Sabatine collaboratively explained.
Council is attempting to address the issues previously discussed, however, it all starts with the hiring of a recreation director, O’Reilly said.
But Maika left the meeting still disheartened, as she told council she could not understand why other community centres have been more fortunate than the CCC, regardless of the lack of staff. She and other taxpayers expect council to take responsibility, she said.
Story continues in the April 10, 2013 issue of The Valley Gazette.