By Barb McKay
A Kincardine councillor posed some hard questions about a proposed plan to open an information centre downtown.
Members of Team Kincardine, which developed the plan, say they aren’t intimidated by councillor Maureen Couture’s line of questioning during last Wednesday’s council meeting.
“The list is exhausting, but it’s in no way intimidating and I feel confident we can get those answers,” said BIA downtown development manager Rick Clarke.
Team Kincardine first broached the subject of developing office space for its members – the Kincardine BIA, Kincardine and District Chamber of Commerce and Penetangore Regional Economic Development Corporation (PREDC) – late last year. The group’s proposal was to lease space in the former Foodland building at
Council has agreed that downtown public washrooms should be a priority, and that municipal services downtown would be a bonus, but some members have questioned how the space will be paid for. The estimated cost to renovate the space and install washrooms is $135,000 and rent would be $45,000 annually.
Couture came to the meeting with a long list of prepared questions in regards to the plan for the information and business centre, how it will be implemented and how it will be paid for.
“I agree with your enthusiasm and your passion,” she said. “But in my experience that doesn’t translate into dollars…To me, this isn’t a business plan; it’s not even a business case. It’s a dream.”
Councillor Ron Coristine, a member of the PREDC board, countered that he has been impressed with how the group has worked to go out and find sponsors and come up with ideas to fund the project.
“This is a dream,” he said. “But it is founded in reality.”
Jackie Pawlikowski, executive director of the Chamber, outlined some of the ways Team Kincardine is looking at to try and cover costs. She explained that Areva, which provides engineering, outage, maintenance and staffing services to Bruce Power, recently located to Kincardine and is looking at supplying the labour for the leasehold improvements in kind. Team Kincardine is also considering providing business and professional services in a fee for service capacity to new and expanding businesses to help recoup some of the costs.
Pawlikowski added that the centre could offer additional services to the public and the community that would benefit economic development and tourism, including an expanded Monday Market; volunteer registry and co-ordination; mom and kids programming information; centralized senior services; and a downtown storefront information depot. She said Team Kincardine needs some kind of commitment to the plan by the municipality while the building space is still available.
“If deferred this project would lose traction,” she said.
Team Kincardine promised to answer Couture’s questions around the project and the financial requirements and council agreed to consider the plan during its 2013 budget deliberations in February.