Minden Hills council will grant a waiver of rental fees at the Irondale Community Centre to two local groups.
Community services director Mark Coleman came to councillors for direction on the matter during a March 9 committee-of-the-whole meeting.
The waiving of rental fees at municipal facilities requires submitting an application form under the township’s Policy 91 and as Coleman noted to council in his report the requests from Bark Lake Cultural Developments and the Salerno Devil’s Lake Cottagers Association did not demonstrate financial need and also appeared to entail private events which are ineligible under the policy.
The policy dictates that should the director of community services have any reasonable doubts about the granting of a waiver he is to refer the matter to council.
Councillor Jean Neville who represents Ward 3 which includes Irondale was adamant the fees should be waived for both groups.
“Those groups are the community of Irondale” Neville said.
Bark Lake Cultural Developments was formed to purchase the Irondale church from the Anglican Diocese of Toronto after the building was decommissioned as an official Anglican church and put up for sale.
The organization carries a mortgage for the purchase of the church.
“Basically this group bailed the church out” Neville said adding because the building is not winterized the group cannot meet there during the winter months.
While the group’s meetings generally include only members “it’s not that other people are not welcome to come to the meeting” Neville said.
Bark Lake Cultural Developments was looking for a fee waiver for five monthly meetings totalling $150 plus HST and the cottagers association for the use of the property for a day for its annual general meeting totalling $100 plus HST.
Neville stressed the community centres in Irondale and Lochlin are different than the Minden Hills Community Centre because they are largely maintained largely by volunteers.
“I think it’s a bit of an exception when these communities have built these community centres themselves” she said. “These centres were built by the community.”
“Staff goes by the rules” said Reeve Brent Devolin. “There are some grey zones here. To me this is a political decision that’s in a grey area. This becomes a political decision not a policy decision.”
Devolin said he was prepared to support the fee waiver and councillors agreed.