Margo Fournier Centre support effort ongoing

Tyler Clarke
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With Monday’s city council meeting early indication of their success, the group charged with keeping the Margo Fournier Centre alive is keeping at it.

Wearing “Save Margo Fournier Centre” buttons, a group of building supporters meet on Sunday in preparation for Monday’s city council meeting. From left is Terra Lennox, Zepp, Conrad Burns, Mary Ethier and Ruth Griffith. 

“We are planning to do three types of action,” facility user Terra Lennox-Zepp said, representing the 226 people who signed a petition to keep the centre open.

“The first is to stay in contact with our city councillors regarding this issue,” she started.

“Secondly, to attend any public consultations that come up regarding the Margo Fournier or any other recreation facilities.

“The third is to keep the user groups of the Margo Fournier Centre up to date on what is happening.”

At Monday’s city council meeting, Lennox-Zepp, joined by more than 100 supporters, encouraged the city’s elected officials to withdraw an order made to the building’s user groups to potentially leave the promises by Dec. 31.

User groups were never actually ordered to leave -- they were cautioned to find an alternate venue in the possible event that the building closes.

However, it was enough to caution the public that the city is moving in this direction, Lennox-Zepp said.

“Administration warning tenants to remove themselves from the building was troubling to us, because the first step of closing a building is to tell tenants that they are to be leaving,” she noted.

“Monday night’s council meeting cancelling the order for the tenants to remove themselves from the building was a great success.”

Reflecting on Monday’s meeting, Coun. Rick Orr -- who was elected to represent the downtown area ward -- said that the public representation of 100-strong was an eye-opener.

“Some of the comments that were made were pretty impactful,” Orr said.

“We are concerned about the downtown and the viability and having a facility like the Margo Fournier is important but there are some other aspects that we have to look at.

Administration warning tenants to remove themselves from the building was troubling to us, because the first step of closing a building is to tell tenants that they are to be leaving Terra Lennox-Zepp

“We have been charged by the citizens of Prince Albert to be frugal and see how we can same money and look at what’s the best for the future … What’s best for the taxpayer?”

There are countless options that need to be looked at, he said -- from reinvigorating the building’s current functionality to selling the land.

“I look around our community and I see schools that sit vacant quite a bit of the time with big gymnasiums and areas that could be utilized by the community,” he said. “We have community halls throughout the city that are available to be used.

“We really have to do due diligence and see what its purposes are today, and how we’ll maybe repurpose it.”

Since Monday’s motion didn’t really mean much of anything beyond making user groups less prepared for the building’s possible closure, the future of the building needs to be examined at city hall and with its user groups, Orr said.

In advance of council and administration’s two-day strategic planning in June, Orr said that he’d like to see some public consultation take place.

“How can you have a strategic planning without talking to your citizens?”

Remaining abreast of the city’s dealings with the Margo Fournier Centre, Lennox-Zepp said that the building’s group of supporters wants to start meeting regularly.

“At this time, there’s no date for any motion about closing the Margo Fournier Centre at city council and I’m hoping that it becomes a non-issue,” she said. “We’ll remain vigilant, but we’re hoping that it won’t be needed.”

Organizations: Margo Fournier Centre, Prince Albert

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