Columbus files motion to reconsider

Jacob Robinson

By Jacob Robinson, Simcoe Reformer

 Talbot Gardens in Simcoe (File photo)

Talbot Gardens in Simcoe (File photo)


The idea of building a new multi-use recreation facility in Norfolk might not be dead after all.

A proposal to go forward with a list of recommendations for Norfolk's recreational facilities was voted down at a council meeting Jan. 30. This week, one of the county councillors who voted against moving forward will table a motion for reconsideration.

Delhi Coun. Mike Columbus has submitted a 'notice of motion to reconsider' the proposal that could one day see the Simcoe area gain two new ice pads, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, and new seniors' centre.

The original proposal would've instructed county staff to search for land – possibly 20-plus acres - to build such a facility within Simcoe's urban boundary, but Columbus is suggesting widening that scope by saying “within the Simcoe area”.

“It's probably not that easy to find an acreage like that in the Simcoe urban boundary,” Columbus said Monday morning.

“In order to keep most of the taxpaying residents throughout the county happy, it would be better off to be on the west side of (Simcoe).”

What the proposed recreation hub would ultimately include has been as hotly debated in Norfolk as the preferred site. Councillors residing in the west end of the county ultimately balked at the idea of their constituents possibly driving to Simcoe's east end to use the recreational facilities.

“I haven't heard much from the residents in Delhi, but I would say it's probably a 50/50 (split),” Columbus said when asked about reaction to the hub idea. “We're not that far from urban Simcoe, but most people west of my ward are questioning whether they would use such a multi-use facility.”

Columbus feels he'll have greater buy-in with this new proposal – which would be taken as information at Tuesday's meeting and ultimately brought to a vote March 27 following a two-week period. The motion will need two-thirds support to proceed.

Simcoe's Doug Brunton was one councillor who opposed the original motion. Brunton said Monday he'd like all elected officials to decide exactly what the facility would include before proceeding.

“We're all over the map right now,” he said.

Brunton added that some seniors in town aren't thrilled with the thought of their new home being part of a multi-use project.

“I've talked to the seniors at length – I've talked to all kinds of them – they would like to be in the downtown and that opens up some other possibilities,” he said. “The ones I've talked to don't want to be part of a hub with skating arenas and swimming pools.”

Brunton also feels that Norfolk needs to be prudent at this time with almost $100 million being spent on water and wastewater projects in the coming months.

“Our reserves are being depleted big time,” he pointed out. “As of September 2017, we've got $85 million in the queue for water and wastewater projects so the people that use those facilities have to pay for them. What's more important – you can't drink pool water.”

“The water and sewer and our road system, those are things that are a necessity.”