No civic facilities on the chopping block, yet

Tyler
Tyler Clarke
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The exterior of the Margo Fournier Centre is seen. During last year’s budget process, the building was brought up twice – once, when Mayor Greg Dionne noted that it was supposed to close when the Alfred Jenkins Field House opened, and the second time when city council voted against making building improvements because they weren’t sure whether the city was divesting itself of the building in the near future. 

No civic facilities are currently on the chopping block, but city administration is in the midst of a comprehensive review of city-owned buildings.

 

Last week, Mayor Greg Dionne said that four facilities would either be closed or put up for sale in the near future.

Although he declined to name which facilities face potential closure, the Daily Herald noted that city council has discussed the potential closure of the Margo Fournier Centre in the past and have consistently noted the aging infrastructure that keeps the Kinsmen Water Park operating.

“We’ve been looking at a really detailed review of our entire network of facilities, and of course our Margo Fournier Centre is one,” community services director Jody Boulet clarified this week.

“I think once council has an opportunity to review the information we’re currently preparing …  I think they’ll be in a better position to speak in a little more detail around what we’re targeting.”

It’s city council’s role to determine whether a facility continues to operate or closes -- two extremes with an ample middle ground for council consideration.

Although the closure of civic facilities is certainly an option, “that’s not going to be the only option for each of the facilities that we present further information on,” Boulet explained.

“Maybe there are other opportunities for use, maybe there are other opportunities for partnerships among groups that currently use those facilities.”

Although Dionne has a list of four civic facilities in mind, city administration will be presenting as much information to the city’s nine elected officials as they can, on as many civic facilities as they can in advance of 2015 budget deliberations.

“It has been a good review, because as you’ve seen so far on our budget process we’ve focused more on making sure council had all budget information on each area, including each facility,” Boulet said, noting that this is an improvement on past years’ budget process.

We’re going down that same road now and bringing more of the activities, the program numbers -- everything that basically happens out of each facility, we’re now putting that package together for council. Jody Boulet

“We’re going down that same road now and bringing more of the activities, the program numbers -- everything that basically happens out of each facility, we’re now putting that package together for council.”

By painting a complete picture of each facility, from activities to finances to capital needs, city council will be better able to discuss the future of said facilities, he noted.

“What do we get from that amount, and what is being offered by these facilities for that budgeted amount? What are we getting for that investment in that facility?”

On Monday, Dionne put forth a motion for city council to finalize the 2015 budget by Dec. 31 of this year.

Should council support this motion, Boulet said that administration would have to finalize their comprehensive building review by early autumn, at the latest, to have an impact on 2015 budget deliberations.

As always, it will be up to the city’s elected officials to decide what to do with the information presented to them, Boulet noted.

“Ever year when we prepare the budget it’s an important process that we review everything across the board, and I think that’s an expectation as well from taxpayers.”

The Daily Herald will continue to follow this story as it develops. 

Organizations: Daily Herald, Margo Fournier Centre

Geographic location: Kinsmen Water Park

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