With no cost-sharing deal in place, recreational facilities in Smiths Falls are off limits to Merrickville-Woolford

August 9, 2017 by

Its official: Smiths Falls is locking out arena users from Merrickville-Wolford.  Town council voted on Tuesday August 8, to prohibit residents from non-contributing municipalities from using the town’s recreational facilities.

“We need to be fair to our municipal partners and to the taxpayers of Smiths Falls,”  CAO Malcolm Morris, told council.

The latest rounds of recreational cost-sharing talks began in March 2016 and included an exploration of the best way to share the cost.  In the end a weighted assessment similar to the one used by Perth and Carleton Place with their neighbours was adopted.  Municipalities included in those talks were Rideau Lakes, Montague, Drummond North Elmsley, Elizabethtown-Kitley and Merrickville-Wolford.   All but Merrickvile-Wolford have agreed to participate in the newly minted five-year cost sharing agreement.

“We tried to come up with a model that was fair and equitable and our partners have agreed to the new model,” said Shawn Pankow, Mayor.

Under the previous five year agreement Smiths Falls charged residents from non-contributing municipalities a surcharge of $378 per user – it was hoped that the penalty would encourage users to petition their councils to participate in the agreement.

“The surcharge we tried previously was very difficult to administer, and did not work in our favour or our partners’ favour,” said Morris.

In the meantime Merrickville-Wolford council passed a resolution on June 26 to give their residents a $200 rebate per resident.  With more than 70 residents using the Smiths Falls arena that will be the equivalent of the small municipality’s $15,000 share had they signed onto the cost sharing agreement.

The decision to lock out facility users was not taken lightly.

“I don’t agree that kids are being punished like this, but that’s on their council not ours,” said Chris Cummings, Councillor.