Railway Station talks continue at latest council meeting

BARRY’S BAY – Although negotiations are stalled, both Madawaska Valley Township council and Madawaska Valley Culture and Heritage Committee (MVCHC) exchanged some words at the latest May 22 council meeting. During her mayoral address, Kim Love explained that she and Councillor Shelley Maika have cleaned up the railway station to have it open as a visitor information centre/railway museum for the May long weekend. Later on in the meeting, she explained that negotiations have stalled between the MVCHC and the township. MVCHC wants to operate the train station as a visitor information centre, museum and art gallery, similar to how it was operated in the past. Both parties could not come to an agreement, particularly over money. The MVCHC is asking for $90,000 of taxpayer money per year for two years, which the township is not prepared to offer. Money would be used for hiring a manager to coordinate events and apply for grants, as well as social media generation and volunteer honorariums (during the shoulder seasons.) At the conclusion of the regular council meeting, MVCHC Board of Directors President Doug De La Matter said he would like to clear up some misconceptions in the community. He said there are rumours circulating about the society, that members would use the money to personally enrich themselves. “I wanted to point out that as an incorporated non-profit company, it’s illegal for any director to be paid anything except out of pocket expenses,” De La Matter said. “So the rumours implying we would indulge in illegal acts are not true.” “Not at all,” Love agreed. “Just for the record,” De La Matter said. “In fact, we have invested several thousand dollars of our personal monies setting up this corporation. I have invested the last five months setting up a company to enable us to partner with the municipality to apply for heritage grants specifically from a program in which the average grant was $50,000.” But he said that the only way the MVCHC could attain those grants is if the township was working actively with the group. De La Matter said he was not going to reopen negotiations at the council meeting. However, he pointed out that it “became clear” by the third negotiation meeting that council never intended to replace the manager of the station. “My question is, if you never had any intention of replacing the manager of the station, why did you approve my request for negotiations to do just that unanimously?” he asked. Pick up a copy of the May 30, 2018 paper to read the full story.