A spokesperson for L’Orignal in Action is stepping aside from discussions about a new community centre in L’Orignal, about a year and half after Champlain Township said it would build one in the village.
The group had been involved in advocating for a new centre since 2012, when a building on King Street previously used as a community hall was sold.
In June of 2015, L’Orignal in Action organized a public meeting and presented a plan for a $1.6 million, 7000-square-foot community centre at L’Orignal beach. But Mayor Gary Barton expressed concerns about the price – “if we spend money, it comes from you,” he said – and months later, L’Orignal in Action presented a plan for a smaller, 3240-square-foot community centre.
The 2016 Champlain Township budget, approved in March of 2016, included $25,000 for a “preliminary design” of a L’Orignal community centre. There is another $7,632 in the Parks and Recreation budget for 2017 for “repayment” for the preliminary design of the community centre.
A press release from L’Orignal in Action signed by Marcel Clement says in March of 2016, members of the group met with Barton. “Following discussions that led nowhere, Mayor Barton assured us he would come back with yet another proposition,” it says. “To this date, we have not heard anything from Mayor Barton or from our own councillors.”
The press release says municipal councillors have been reluctant to work with the group. “Communication between volunteers and elected officials have been difficult at best and we perceive there is very little interest at the municipal level despite the fact Mayor Barton says that L’Orignal must have its community centre,” it says.
Barton, however, says Clement had a “whole different vision” for the community centre – “we don’t feel it can exist, and we certainly don’t feel we can afford it,” he said.
The municipality is still committed to building a community centre and working with any members of the group who are interested, he said. The preliminary plan at the moment is to build one in L’Orginal park – possibly something similar to a community centre in Avonmore, Ontario, which was built for $850,000 five years ago, said Barton.