North Grenville council passed a motion last Tuesday to dissolve the lease between the Municipality and Southgate Church. The agreement for the Municipality to lease a portion of land from Southgate Church was originally made to help them in their efforts to get a Sens Foundation rink on their property.
After much deliberation, and input from both Southgate Church and other members of the community, council has decided that it would not be prudent for them to continue with the agreement, or to support the building of a community rink on Southgate’s property. “We’re obviously very sorry that this council did not feel it was appropriate to continue with the legal agreement that had been struck with the guidance of the last municipal council,” Mayor Nancy Peckford said. “Obviously, it was our perspective, and it remains our perspective, that the legal construct that was required in order to allow for the Sens Foundation to grant Southgate Church $50,000 is not tenable for our community, and I would argue there are risks as well to Southgate Church which hadn’t been identified throughout the process.”
A motion was put forward to Committee of the Whole by Councillor John Barclay to dissolve the lease, but still show their support for the project through a forgivable loan, or other form of financial support. “North Grenville is a great place to live because of the strength and diversity of our faith communities,” he said. “I see offering some support, like a forgivable loan, sends a signal to the faith community that we do value their input, and it is a gesture of making that real.”
The motion was defeated at the council meeting because Southgate had subsequently made council aware that they did not want any funding from the Municipality for the rink. “It is unfortunate that it has been rejected by Southgate, because they will probably be going out in the community to fund the rink,” Councillor Barclay said.
Mayor Peckford stated several reasons for ending the partnership with Southgate, which included the Park, Recreation and Culture Master Plan study that is currently underway. She and other councillors believe it would not be prudent to support a rink at Southgate before considering what the entire community feels they want and need in terms of recreational amenities in the Municipality. She also stated that she could foresee some issues down the road with asking Southgate to maintain and run what would essentially be a public recreational amenity. “I want to thank Southgate, both personally and professionally, for their willingness to be part of many discussions over the past several months as a very new council has gotten its head around this issue,” she said. “Your goodwill is certainly not lost on us, and we very much appreciate the learning we’ve all had since these conversations began some time ago.”
Councillor Kristin Strackerjan put forward the motion, which was passed by council, to simply dissolve the lease agreement with the church. As Deputy Mayor McManaman put it, they will be leaving a partnership, in terms of financing, off the table for now. The North Grenville Times attempted to contact Southgate Church; however, no one was made available for comment.