Updated to include comment from SMCCA
STELLARTON – It could be the best bargain ever.
After last minute legal negotiations, the Town of Stellarton has agreed to sell the Stellarton Memorial Rink to a non-profit organization, the Stellarton Memorial Community Centre Association (SMCCA), for $1. The rink was built by coal miners and gifted to the Town in 1947, the Town will now gift it back to community.
Mayor Danny MacGillivray said this morning, “We sincerely wish them success.
“At the end of the day, Council’s goal has not been to demolish the rink at all costs, the goal has always been to relieve the Town of a significant liability while keeping the public safe,” stated MacGillivray.
“Council’s main concern is protection of the taxpayer, to continue to hold the tax rate, with no increases. Any renovation plan presented by the SMCCA to Town Council was 100 per cent funded by the municipal tax rate.”
A press release received from the town this morning points out the Stellarton taxpayer supports two rinks and a pool at the Pictou County Wellness Centre (PCWC), in a significant way. The funding formula is based on a proximity model.
“Since our residents live closer than others to the PCWC, the Town of Stellarton pays 30 per cent of the operating subsidy required for the facility to break even.” The Town of New Glasgow pays 35 per cent, the Municipality of the County of Pictou pays 25 per cent, the Town of Pictou pays 4 per cent, the Town of Trenton pays 6 per cent and the Town of Westville pays nothing.
“We cannot afford to modernize our community rink with the already existing budget pressures regarding ice surfaces,” added MacGillivray.
The SMCCA has the passion to move forward, but Town Council has declared that it cannot be with taxpayer dollars.
“It is encouraged that our citizens offer any support they can to the group. Council has offered to process any potential donations as this will allow for the issuing of charitable tax receipts, giving the donor a break on their personal income taxes.
“It brought me comfort that during the legal negotiations, the lawyer for the SMCCA stated their intention is to attempt renovations without funding from the Town of Stellarton,” noted MacGillivray.
The Town has offered the SMCCA a grant in lieu for their tax bill. Under the Municipal Government Act, they will be required to pay their taxes like anyone else, but the Town will provide them an annual grant for the same amount, as is done for the Sobeys Multi Sport Complex. This will not cost the Town, as there is currently $0 in tax revenue from that property.
Discussions and community meetings over the past year had been ongoing between the town and the non-profit group interested in saving the rink. The final decision by the town was to demolish the rink and a tender for demo had been recommended. The recommendation was amended that if litigation was involved, the tender would be rescinded without penalty.
Speaking on behalf of the SMCCA Darren Stroud said, “We are pleased with what the Town has now proposed. A few items are being finalized and we look forward to moving forward. The Stellarton Memorial Community Centre Association welcomes the assistance and input of the members of our community. Additional volunteers are welcomed.”