Merrickville-Wolford reacts to lock out of Smiths Falls recreational facilities

August 11, 2017 by
The arena in Smiths Falls plays host to players from across our listening area

The arena in Smiths Falls plays host to players from across our listening area

The Smiths Falls decision to lock out Merrickville-Wolford’s residents because they did not sign onto the recreation cost sharing agreement, isn’t going to change the smaller municipality’s position according to its mayor.

“At this time our position has not changed based on their decision,” wrote Merrickville-Wolford Mayor David Nash in an email to Lake 88.  “It is unfortunate that this decision by Smiths Falls has now resulted in a lose/lose scenario with children paying the price,” he continued,  adding that his council did approve an increase from $100 to $200 to subsidize any extra user fees residents might be charged.

“This is no way to promote healthy living just because they did not want to be bothered to charge and collect a reasonable user pay fee,” wrote Nash.

According to Smiths Falls CAO Malcolm Morris, the town made the decision to lock out residents from non-participating municipalities because the policy of charging user fees wasn’t working.

“The surcharge we tried previously was very difficult to administer, and did not work in our favour or our partners’ favour,” said Morris. “We need to be fair to our municipal partners and to the taxpayers of Smiths Falls,” he added.

With more than 70 individuals from Merrickville-Wolford enrolled to use the ice at the Smiths Falls arenas, the $200 rebate if accessed by every user would be almost the equivalent to Merrickville-Wolford’s $15,000 share of the recreational cost sharing agreement in the first year of the five-year agreement.

“It is important to note that the cost sharing agreement only covers the direct annual operating costs of the arenas, not capital costs,” said Morris.

Merrickville-Wolford is questioning the legality of the decision.

“It may even be a human rights issue for them to deny a child the right to play organized hockey in a league in which he or she has no control over the boundaries that dictate where they play,” wrote Nash, adding that, in keeping with their commitment to healthy living Merrickville-Wolford is proud to welcome Smiths Falls residents to their soccer fields and tennis resources.

In the meantime, Merrickville-Wolford residents will continue to have unfettered access to all outdoor recreational facilities in Smiths Falls, including the baseball diamonds, tennis courts, soccer fields, wading pool, skate park and splash pad.