Notes from Council (Oct. 29)
Financial statement of
current council Presented by Ron Burt of Takalo & Burt, consolidated statements highlighted the financial responsibilities of the Town of Goderich and Management.
The auditors report was a clean opinion of the records kept in accordance with accounting standards for public sector.
Of the consolidated statements discussed at council, assets such as Goderich Port Corp., Mid-Huron Landfill Site and Goderich Hydro were highlighted.
Burt explained to council and staff that the all liabilities have been paid on a timely basis.
“You have reserves and reserve funds of $26M and then an operating surplus of $11M of which some it tied up in Goderich Hydro, some in other areas – it’s not all available for use,” Burt explained. He furthered that as far as the financial statement of the Town, there were significant assets in surplus. In addition, Burt made comment that the Town was doing a “reasonably good job of trying to match” the Asset Management Plan.
“Generally speaking, records are in excellent shape. Staff is welltrained and they know their needs of what is required; they do records properly,” Burt added. According to the report made by Burt, there is no direct debt. There may be reserve funds that assets are tied to, but there are no debts between funds and the Town is not going outside to borrow.
In a time of change of leadership, Deputy-Mayor Donnelly made a point to request Burt to be implicit of his statement on the financial management from the last four years. “I gathered from your remarks that our personnel are competent, our procedures are proper and effective, that we are in reasonably good financial shape, and our net is somewhere near $3M,” Donnelly said.
“It’s implicit from what you have said that you didn’t detect any signs that would warrant further investigation or create suspicion or cause worry about leaks or mismanagement.”
Burt replied to Donnelly, making it implicitly clear that from a financial perspective, there has been no debt in this Municipality.
He added that the Town is run very well financially and are doing well in trying to make user fees pay for user fee things, such as water and sewage. Leadership will change in a few weeks and before a new council takes over, current Deputy-Mayor Donnelly wanted to inform the residents that they are leaving their positions with a town that is debt-free.
“To continue that thought, may this administration be turfed out of office with the public realizing that it’s been a well-run organization in its lifetime,” Donnelly concluded. Huron County Domestic Assault Review Team (DART) asks council to recognize Dec. 6 as a day of action against violence against women
As the Chair of the Domestic Assault Review Team (DART), Teresa Donnelly came with a request for council. Donnelly who is also the WestRegion Sexual Violence Crown at the Ministry of the Attorney General and the Crown Attorney in Huron County, her request relates to violence against women.
DART’s request relates to the national day of action and remembrance with respect to violence against women and girls.
“I’m here today because on Dec.6 of 1989 a man walked into a college in Quebec. He separated the men from the women – he put the men on the right hand side and put the women on the left hand side of the room, and he executed 14 women,” Donnelly stated.
“He did that because they were women.”
Since 1991 the Parliament of Canada established a national day to mark the murders of those 14 women. Dec. 6 is the day to commemorate the murder of those 14 women, and it reflects on the phenomenon of violence against women in our society.
Having already approached County Council for their support, DART also requested Goderich Town Council to lower the flags to half-mast on Dec. 6. “We are planning a ceremony at 10am at Courthouse Park. We have an event planned for 7pm at night, of a screening of a documentary film called ‘A Better Man,’” Donnelly said. “We are also requesting that the Mayor attend the 10am ceremony in Courthouse Park. I will tell you that what we are asking of you in relation to Dec. 6 is part of our work with respect to the 16 days of activism to end violence against women and children.”
The 16 days of activism, supported by the United Nations, starts on Nov. 25. It is an international campaign for the elimination of violence against women. The 16 days of activism runs until Dec. 10, Human Rights Day. “The reason we ask you to reflect is that we all play a role in ending violence against women and girls. Violence against women discriminates against women, it’s a violation of their charter right to equality and to their right to human dignity,” said Donnelly.
“As the Chair of Huron DART, I stand before [Goderich] Council and ask that they lower the flag to half mast on Dec. 6. We also ask that the Mayor attend and participate in our ceremony.”
As part of DART’s campaign, they also requested that banners be placed in public spaces such as Town Hall. Councillor Michele Hansen who was the cofounder and driving force behind the implementation of DART in Huron County in 1992 requested to be the person to make the motion to support the requests made by Donnelly.
DART’s schedule of events for Dec. 6 apart from the flags at half-mast include an out-door ceremony at Courthouse Park starting at 10am.
Highlights of the event will include song, remarks by local politicians including the Mayor of Goderich, and the naming of the 14 women spoken aloud.
In the evening of Dec. 6 at the Huron County Museum Theater, there will be a documentary screening of ‘A Better Man’ at 7pm.
A different model for recreation General Manager AnneMarie Thomson provided council with an operational update for the track usage and fees at the Maitland Recreation Centre.
“My intent is to provide you with some history, some rationale and some of the considerations to address the issues that have been raised regarding the track and the ice surface at the Maitland Recreation Centre,” said Thomson.
“Our community and previous council worked with the YMCA to determine the best business model to provide recreation services to the community.” According to Thomson it was determined in 2004 that track access be included in the membership area of the facility. Currently, to access the track on all days but Friday mornings, users must be members of the YMCA or pay the day-use fees. A day pass allows users full access to the facility, including classes. Council raised concerns over the cost of using the track on a day-pass, while other facilities in the area such as the track in Clinton, can be used without a cost. The YMCA does not operate the track in Clinton, but rather just the fitness centre. Thomson explained that it was decided that membership is the YMCA’s best value. At $52 a month, for an adult participating twice a week, the fee breaks out to $6 a visit or for three times a week, $4 a visit. YMCA day pass rates are competitive and comparable to other facilities in the area. For an adult the cost of a day pass is $11.50 + HST ($13 total). This includes full use of the facility. Thomson added that the YMCA, “continues to offer free access to the track on Fridays and are introducing a brand-new walking program on Tuesdays.” Councillors voiced their concerns on the price of a day pass, suggesting the usage of the track be free. As this could bring management and operational challenges, Thomson said they were willing to discuss ideas. Some challenges Thomson spoke on that could come about if the track was free to use included knowing where to draw the line. “I understand the operation part of it, because you are concerned with people just having a walking track membership and that they might use the weight room facility,” said Councillor Bazinet.
“We need to look after our seniors as well. $13 is a lot of money. I don’t expect the YMCA to not charge anything at all, but if we could get the $13 fee down. People just want to spend a little money, get some safe exercise and be on their way for the rest of the day.” Thomson, speaking on behalf of the board of management and the YMCA stated that “anything is possible” and they were willing to discuss different access models.
She went on to say that the day pass fee is in line with using the YMCA once a week.
“If you’re going to come more than once a week, your greater value is to participate as a member.”
The YMCA has overcome obstacles for potential users to join such as eliminating the joining fee, removing the cancellation fee, ability to go on hold seamless, and offering financial assistance. Currently the YMCA offers Fridays from 10am until 12pm for usage of the track.
“The spirit of this discussion is why that Friday program was introduced. We recognized that we make some free access,” added Thomson. “We can certainly have conversations, and the board [of management] would be where I would go back to, to look at what else, in addition to the Friday, we could do.” Council members concurred that the track should be offered at a lesser fee or for free to ensure the wellbeing, health and safety of seniors in the community.
If the model changes at the YMCA, the incoming-council will be dealing with changes to the contract-agreement. A motion was made to indicate that council still expresses concerns regarding the fee for the walking track and that alternatives be considered in the future. Mayor’s Remarks and
Councillor Issues Mayor Morrison was brief in his statements to council, staff and the community at last council meeting. Morrison congratulated those who will be sworn in as a new council and thanked others for putting their names forward in the most recent election.
“As we said in the last meeting, we knew there would be a few changes and there have been. It’s been a true pleasure working with you folks. I do want to thank the team here at Town Hall during the election. It’s great because we did have a major change with this election with how people voted and the turn out was a substantial increase, which was great to see,” Morrison said. “Thank you to all those involved. I didn’t want your efforts to go unnoticed.” In addition Deputy-Mayor Donnelly, who doesn’t speak up as consistently as others, but when he does it is usually of substance, spoke on the last four years and the leadership of Mayor Morrison. “Mr. Mayor, I try not to speak too often, but there are times when I feel an obligation. Not on my part, but on behalf of the people of town,” Donnelly said.
He spoke on behalf of the town for which Mayor Morrison “laboured for eight years and specifically four years as Mayor.”
In that time, Donnelly mentioned the accomplishments and progress made under Morrison’s leadership. Items such as taking over and developing the Victoria Public School property, economic development, Ag Park Revitalization were among some of the highlights.
Donnelly mentioned the personal sacrifices that are made when one takes office of Mayor, and in his opinion, Mayor Morrison showed up, did it well and repeatedly.
“”You created a change in the atmosphere in the council chambers. Not only for the participants on the council, but also for the members of the public who now can come here with the feeling that they are welcome and will be heard and listened to, that we are here to help them. In all of those areas, you have excelled,“Donnelly continued.
The only area that Morrison didn’t excel in according to Donnelly, is what happens to every politician at some point in their career – getting it in the neck from the voters.
“When I was a young man, Churchill won the war. First election after the war, Churchill is out. So, it’s no sign of the quality of the person, because there weren’t better people in the world like that,” Donnelly added.
“It’s a sign of the voters, and sometimes they are right and sometimes they’re not.”