With the possible introduction of new federal/provincial funding streams, Council is seeking the formation of an inter-municipal steering committee to champion a Mariners Centre expansion
Monday, February 11, 2019 - Yarmouth, N.S. - At a Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday, a proposal was placed before Council to support the formation of a steering committee representing the Municipality of Yarmouth, the Municipality of Argyle, and the Town of Yarmouth for the purpose of re-tabling a top priority of all three councils: Mariners Centre expansion. The special meeting was called on Friday in order to act quickly on possible new federal and provincial funding avenues supporting recreational infrastructure projects of this very nature.
Along with its municipal neighbours, the Town identified an expansion at Mariners Center amongst its top priorities in 2016. While council outlines its own priorities for the Town, the expansion was made a regional priority to address issues with ageing recreation infrastructure as current facilities require extensive upgrades and have little room for growth and expansion. It was also determined that an expansion to the current Centre was important to help reverse a negative trend of population decline. A facility resulting from the proposed expansion would attract working-age people and young professionals and their families to the area.
Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood explains that a unique opportunity has quickly become available, and moving fast is necessary for success. "Funding priorities at the federal and provincial levels don't always match up with regional priorities, whether due to timing or other issues. This situation is the opposite, and if we all work together quickly, this project stands a good chance of coming together. We have to strike while the iron is hot."
While establishing a steering committee is a key first step, it was stressed that there is considerable work that needs to be completed by such a committee before seeking the funding, including agreements on capital and operations. The establishment of a fair and equitable formula for funding agreements, which would include variables such as population and uniform assessment, is also an important first step.
The Town previously set a placeholder of $2.5 million in its capital budget for this project, which includes an aquatic centre. The expansion could be in the range of $35 million, with 73% coming from federal and provincial sources. Of the local share, the Town of Yarmouth taxpayers could be expected to contribute between $2.5 and $3 million. Put in another way: $1.00 ‐ $1.20 per day, for one year, for every resident in the town. Under the proposed funding model, the same cost per person would apply to residents of partner municipalities as well as the Town of Yarmouth.
The motion passed unanimously this morning at the Committee of the Whole meeting. Council will once again discuss the issue at Thursday night's council meeting and vote on a motion to move it forward to create the proposed steering committee. The other municipal units involved were made aware of the recent developments in funding possibilities, as well as the topics of discussion of today's meeting.