'Community' steps up

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An African proverb states it takes an entire village to raise a child.

Local experience would also suggest it will take the whole community to resuscitate Lake Lisgar.

“I like that, that’s a good quote,” laughed Lake Lisgar Revitalization Project committee member – and unofficial queen of grant applications - Joan Weston Monday evening outside of town council chambers. “You should be a reporter.”

Weston and an LLRP delegation including Co-Chair John Glass and Frank Kempf had reason for jocularity. The ‘whole community’ represented by its elected officials had just stepped up to the plate financially in support of its lake Monday evening during open council.

By-law 3692, read three times and passed that evening, contains three components. The first extends the mandate of the LLRP, the second recognizes its committee members, and the third, front and centre Monday, provided pre-budget approval for $46,250 to help the LLRP (who proposed the first $10,000 come from the LLRP Trust) provide required matching funding to receive a $56,250 Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund from the federal government.

Council was universal in its support of the motion turned by-law, and in its support of the LLRP, an organization who has taken ‘point’ and made significant progress on an effort to rescue and restore what Councillor Marty Klein referred to as a community ‘jewel.’

“You have momentum and I think we should encourage it to continue,” he stated.

“I think it would be very irresponsible for council to throw out the anchor on this,” agreed Councillor Mel Getty.

LLRP Trust, Town of Tillsonburg and federal CIIF monies will fund Phase III of the LLRP’s business plan. Its highlights include foundation repair and new energy-efficient lighting and windows for Gibson House, parking lot safety and accessibility improvements, infrastructure repair for part of the Trans Canada Trail, extension of the public lake walkway, wheelchair accessibility and safety improvements to public scenic landings, provision for safe lake access and landings, and upgrades to the booms and safety netting.

The LLRP raised $27,500 for Phase I, supported by grants from the TD Friends of the Environment and the RBC Bluewater Project. It saw two existing sediment ponds dredged upstream, a third created, four aeration systems installed and the beginning of ongoing weed control.

Phase II saw the LLRP raise $90,000, supported by a Trillium Fund grant (in conjunction with the Tillsonburg Rowing Club) for improvements including a new state-of-the-art rowing dock and access ramp, the stocking of 250 rainbow trout, a clean-up day and supported events including Family Fishing Day and Turtlefest.

Funding for Phase IV (maintaining and/or enlarging the three existing sediment traps) had been secured via a Great Lakes Guardian Grant for $17,500 was announced earlier in what turned out to be a very big week for the LLRP.

“We’re thrilled,” Weston said outside of council chambers.

Councillor Brian Stephenson noted Tillsonburg had been fortunate in terms of CIIF funding, with major announcements for both its library and the LLRP, in light of few others in the county had been successful in their applications.

“It’s our turn to win, I guess.”

The fact 2013 budget deliberations are not anticipated to begin until February means pre-budget approval was required. This would ‘encumber’ some funds agreed CAO David Calder in response to a council question, but worth it, given the qualification of matching federal funding, inherent value in the project, and the fact the CIIF deadline will precede Town of Tillsonburg budget deliberations.

Councillor Dave Beres was strongly supportive of the LLRP in his comments, but noted while council was guaranteeing matching money, there would still be opportunity for ongoing fund-raising activities to mitigate the final total.

“I think we’re all going to have to get together and roll up our sleeves to make this happen.”

Outside council chambers, Glass agreed the LLRP will remain open to corporate and community donations.

“But this allows us to continue with Phase III.”

Glass also pointed out elements of the plan would have had to be addressed by council in any event, with an accompanying budgetary impact.

“So the town is in a positive situation by having the federal government provide funding, funding the town doesn’t have to put forth.”

Deputy Mayor Mark Renaud, chairing the meeting in the mayor’s absence, called the effort a ‘very important project,’ reiterating Lake Lisgar was in fact “a jewel in the town’s crown.”

“There’s your first note for the budget file, Mr. (Darrell) Eddington,” he said to the town’s Director of Financial following unanimous passage of the recommendation.

“There are many notes,” Eddington responded with a smile.

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