It’s high time Holyrood got a Rec Centre, says Councillor King

By Craig Westcott/October 21, 2022

Holyrood councillor Sadie King told her colleagues Tuesday it’s time to step up find money for a recreational centre for the town.

“Now that we’re working on budget preparations, we have to set the wheels in motion to secure funding and at least get to the design phase this year,” said King.

The councillor said community groups are always trying to secure slots at the Legion or the Star of the Sea to hold their activities.

“But all this comes with a heavy price tag,” she said. “There’s no freebies in this town, let me tell you. If there is no room to grow recreation, then what else are we going to grow? How are we going to grow the town? And the only way we’re going to grow recreation is with an infusion of money into our budget.”

Because of the lack of indoor space, King said, Holyrood has to focus its recreational efforts on outdoor events.

“We have a lot of families in this town who are beyond frustrated,” she added. “We have families leaving Holyrood to go to Avondale to find a place in the family resource program. We have leaders of programs who are working at the Star and the community centre going around with their vehicles used as storage units, because they have no place else to store their equipment.”

There isn’t even a place in Holyrood to hold a children’s birthday party, said King.

“Have the seniors got a place to call home? No, certainly not,” she said. “If the Town wants to have a function, where are they going to go? They have to hire the Star, or they have to hire The Wilds, or they have to hire somewhere else. There’s definitely no place here for them. We have choir groups, we have quilting groups, we have people playing board games all going outside this town trying to find affordable space. It’s not here in Holyrood. I ask you mayor and councillors this evening to seriously take a step back and think about recreation in this town. If we’re going to grow this town, we have to look at recreation for our families.”

King said over the past few years Holyrood has made significant “investments” in water and sewer infrastructure, heritage and the fire department. 

“The time has come now to look at recreation,” she said. “Right now, we are stretching ourselves to the limit in both our operational and infrastructure perspectives trying to provide activities for our residents. We can’t stretch anymore; the elastic is gone.”

Last year, King said, staff requested $45,000 to hire a full-time recreation facilitator at Holy Cross Park. Instead, only enough funding was allocated for a half time person. 

This year, the Town has $18,000 from ACOA to fund the position again. “Are we going to get someone to fill it? We don’t know because there’s not enough money there,” said King. “Who wats a job for two or three months? Nobody today. So maybe when we come to the budget, we’ve got to look again at this position and think about the safety of our children. They’re up there in a pool with very little supervision.”

King said work has started on the town’s multi-courts, but they won’t be finished this year. “We’ll get asphalt on it. But what’s the good of the multi courts if we have no equipment?” King said. “We don’t have any money for equipment. We need another $50,000. Add that on to your budget. Don’t forget… Anyway, just think about recreation when you’re doing the budget this year.”

Mayor Gary Goobie thanked King for her remarks.

“You certainly raised a lot of legitimate and valid points, which I’m sure all of council do agree (with),” he said. “We all recognize that we are lacking in structural facilities to accommodate the groups to which you referred earlier – seniors and many different groups in the community. We’ve been renting facilities over the past several years. We’ve discussed this in the last several budgets, but because of financial constraints we couldn’t move forward at all on this new recreation facility. But we’ve talking about it these past several years and it goes back a couple of councils. Our town is certainly growing in leaps and bounds, a lot of young new families are coming here, and they want places to go for all the different activities and events and everything else. So, we certainly don’t disagree. I think we’re all on the same page, and obviously we will give this much consideration during our deliberations on our upcoming budget. But everything is (contingent) on the almighty dollar and we try to operate within our fiscal capacity, we try to prioritize things on an as needed basis. So we look forward to your commentary during our budget discussions. But we fully agree with what you are saying, and your points are duly noted.”

Infrastructure and public works chairman, councillor Steve Winsor, also expressed sympathy for King’s view.

“Councillor King, I absolutely support us going towards concept selection at least,” Winsor said. “Infrastructure and public works might talk about shovel ready projects, investing in a little bit up front, engineering and design. We’ve at least got to do that, that’s the first step. Anyway, that’s my thoughts. We can talk about it more.”

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