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As a potential cost-cutting measure, Norfolk County has asked community groups and the private sector to table ideas for the management of these facilities.
Norfolk council has concluded the county’s financial situation is precarious. During January’s budget talks, council agreed to solicit ideas for new ways of managing community facilities.
Scheers said the process is flawed, partly because of unanswered questions regarding the hub and whether it will be a factor in the equation for the future. Scheers worries council’s process for fielding input has set Norfolk’s user groups up to fail.
“No one wants to put forward any ideas until the issue of the hub is settled,” Scheers said. “Who would want to put in a proposal for the Port Dover arena when the hub is five minutes down the road?
“Until that decision is made, you’re not going to get anyone making proposals. Why would they? There’s too much risk.”
Chopp reminded Scheers that the current council inherited the hub file from the previous council. The mayor also reminded Scheers that his ward councillor – Mike Columbus – was the one who tabled the motion to resurrect the hub concept in 2018 when it appeared to be gone for good.
The motion that put the hub back on the table states that Norfolk council’s support is contingent on receiving significant federal-provincial funding for the project, which could cost in the range of $50 million.
Chopp added the hybrid management structure Norfolk council has in mind for arenas and community halls harks back to the days of Haldimand-Norfolk Region when local communities ran local facilities.
“I don’t think you speak for all of Norfolk County because there are people interested in putting forward proposals,” Chopp said.
“I know change is difficult. It always is. But the change we’re suggesting is the way it used to be. The idea is to get back to a time when you guys ran the facilities.”
CAO Jason Burgess added that the county is not bound by any proposal. As a matter of fairness and transparency, Burgess said the municipality must employ a widely-advertised process so no one can claim they were kept in the dark while council cut side-deals with preferred parties.