Council has allocated $10,000 in the Town of Windsor’s latest operating budget into something hockey related at Long Pond‚ but details on what the project is are scarce.
There are rumours that it could be an arena, or a heritage space, or something for youth hockey.
Whatever it actually is, council has already committed $10,000 towards it from the operating budget, which usually funds things like park maintenance, staff wages, and the general operations of the town.
The funding was originally slated to come from the town’s operating reserves, the town’s savings account, but it was moved to the operating budget because, well, that’s something Coun. Jim Ivey wants to find out.
Ivey made a motion to rescind the town’s budget during its regular council meeting on May 28, to get some clarity on the matter, but his motion was blocked due to procedure.
Mayor Anna Allen said, after speaking with the town’s lawyer, that Ivey’s motion went against Robert’s Rules, adding that some of the budget has already been dispersed, making the possibility of rescinding the budget, approved in March, pretty much impossible.
To move forward, Ivey’s motion would have required the majority of council to support it, which didn’t happen.
“The motion came from me not getting an answer on a fairly basic question on the change of the source of funds,” Ivey said following the meeting. “I’m disappointed that I wasn’t able to get that answered.”
Ivey originally voted against the town’s operating and capital budgets in March, citing frustrations with the town’s history of underestimating revenue, which leads to surpluses that plump up the town’s reserve accounts.
“The hockey heritage project was discussed (during the budget process) without any detail provided to council,” he said. “But during that time, we decided those funds would come from the reserves, using the reserve funds would have zero impact on our residential and commercial tax rates.”
If the funds were allocated from the town’s reserve accounts, the town would have required a formal presentation from the group proposing this initiative, and it would have also required approval from the Co-ordinating Committee, which is overseeing the town’s consolidation with the Municipality of West Hants.
With the item coming from the operating budget, the funds can flow without any oversight, which concerns Ivey.
The $10,000 also couldn’t come from the town’s grant process, as a formal grant request wasn’t received from the group proposing the project.
The councillor said he wasn’t trying to “re-debate the budget” or to test the merits of this project, he just wanted to know why the funds are now coming from the town’s operating budget.
HINT OF WHAT’S COMING
Jeff Redden, who is part of an organization that’s spearheading the initiative, said in an interview that more will be revealed on June 11, during a presentation to Windsor council.
“There’s quite a few partners involved with this, but none of the ownership of this will belong to the municipal government,” Redden said. “The town wanted to find a (hockey) heritage project that would celebrate the origins of the game in Windsor.”
He added that the $10,000 from the town is being used for the design phase to bring a proposal forward to ACOA. Without ACOA funding, the project won’t be moving forward, he added.
Redden didn’t want to give too many details about what this project will be or look like, but did say “it will really put us on the map.”
“When you hear the details of the project, there will be obvious spinoffs for the town and the whole region,” he said.
When asked where this project will be centred, Redden said it will incorporate “multiple locations in the town, one of which is Long Pond.”
The organization heading this project is a not-for-profit, but Redden wasn’t able to comment on its title or the other directors.
He also said that this project won’t interfere with the fundraising efforts of the West Hants Sports Complex in Windsor.
“This won’t require (ongoing) funding from the town for its operation,” he said. “Once the details come out, I think people will realize that it’s money well spent.”
Deputy Mayor Laurie Murley said the project is being driven by a grassroots hockey group and aligns with council’s Aug. 23, 2018 special town council motion to identify hockey heritage options around the Long Pond.
“Council is pleased to provide some seed funding of $10,000 towards a hockey project that will support our hockey heritage goals around the Long Pond site,” Murley said. “The seed money in this case was used to help design the conceptualized hockey heritage park.”
Editor's Note: Headline was modified to more accurately reflect the councillor's concerns.