Charting a $48K path for recreation in South Dundas

The South Dundas Municipal Center in Morrisburg. (Newswatch Group/File)

SOUTH DUNDAS – After nearly a decade since its last plan, the municipality will be charting a course for what recreational facilities it needs.

Council here decided Tuesday night to go ahead with a Facility Needs Assessment (FNA), instead of a Recreation Master Plan (RMP).

Recreation Program Coordinator Ben Macpherson’s report to council showed that comparing the RMP’s from three municipalities showed they pretty much came to the same conclusion.

Instead, the Facility Needs Assessment will “provide better insight on the future needs of recreation in South Dundas.”

The price tag for the study – $48,000.

Macpherson told council Tuesday night there has been “a lot of flavour from the community for a multi-use rec facility.”

Macpherson challenged Deputy Mayor Jim Locke’s suggestion the $48,000 could be saved by having staff do the work.

“Can you tell me, do we need a recreational use facility or pool or arena? We need to find out what that’s going to cost versus the usage. I’m all for trying to keep money in house, which is why I wanted to go this route versus the master plan,” Macpherson retorted.

A Recreation Master Plan would have cost $62,500.

“If we had $2 million sitting around we didn’t know what to do with, well then yes … (but) we don’t have any money. It’s like the Fire Master Plan. We spent $60,000 on that and there it sits,” Locke responded.

Coun. Archie Mellan believed it was important to bring in an “independent third party” to focus on all portions of South Dundas, including the smaller communities.

A number of councillors, including Mellan, were also concerned that the report should also focus on the cost for the facilities in addition to the needs.

“The Benson Center down there in Cornwall cost $25 million to build, maybe more. I think they ran a $900,000 deficit last year (accumulated) and they were quite happy with that. Well, I’m sorry. South Dundas can’t afford that,” Mellan said.

In addition to having a plan, Mellan didn’t rule out the possibility of a private-public partnership (P3) for a future recreational facility.

According to Macpherson, the last time a recreation study was done in South Dundas was 2005. He said one of the main recommendations in that 10-year-old report was an indoor pool.

“This will just tell us, we don’t need maybe this giant facility. What we need is a gymnasium with some rooms on the side for groups to meet or to knit or sew or cook or whatever it is that they’re looking to do,” Macpherson said.

Mayor Evonne Delegarde wanted some reassurance that the public would be consulted during the study, which Macpherson said would happen.

The study proposal with the scope of the work to be done will come back to a future council meeting for approval.

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