Tension high at MV council over budget

Robert Fisher
Staff Reporter

BARRY’S BAY – Tension between council and staff was evident during recent budget discussions at the Township of Madawaska Valley.

Two days of budget discussions took place Feb. 26 and 27. The second day was primarily taken up with discussion of budgets for the parks and recreation department and the dialogue became heated and emotional at times, including profanity being used by a councillor. With council members and staff speaking about being personally insulted by the other.

Tension in the council chamber was evident around a discussion of a proposed project to cover a short bridge near the Wilno Heritage Park. A group made a presentation to council at a recent meeting suggesting that covering the bridge would be a boon for economic development because of the popularity of the structures.

The draft budget included $10,000 for an engineering study to determine the feasibility and cost of covering the bridge. Coun. David Shulist, a Wilno resident, became visibly upset when council appeared to lean against the expenditure. He moved that the funds remain in the budget and asked for a recorded vote. The final vote was 4-1 against, with Shulist the only one voting in favour.

Earlier in the meeting, proposed capital expenditure for a new play structure at Lakeshore Park in Barry’s Bay came under scrutiny with Coun. Shelley Maika feeling that the Combermere area of the township was getting short shrift.

Maika was upset that funds generated by subdivision development, for subdivisions outside of Barry’s Bay proper, were being used to enhance a park in Barry’s Bay. The funds were paid by developers as cash in lieu of parkland. When development takes place in a municipality, developers can be required to provide land for public space or contribute cash in lieu of land. That’s what happened in the case of the two subdivisions. Maika pressed staff on the specifics of where the two developments were. “We’re drawing down all of the reserves that all of the taxpayers contribute to without pursuing an opportunity for grant funding,” Maika claimed.

Taxpayers don’t contribute money for cash in lieu payments. Developers do.

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