Councils upset at being admonished by town for not donating to medical centre

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GORDON—Both Burpee-Mills and Gordon/Barrie Island councils have relayed their concerns to being publicly admonished by the town of Gore Bay, for not providing a donation to assist in replacing the roof, as well as work to the basement door and roof of the Gore Bay Medical Centre building.

The councils were referring to a story in the December 20, 2013 edition of the Recorder, ‘Mayor upset with lack of support for medical centre project.’

“I was taken aback when I read this in the paper,” said Gordon/Barrie Island Councillor Lee Hayden. “As for the history of this, we were approached on this and we asked for more information on what needed to be done at the medical centre and the costs involved and got limited response from the town. He (Gore Bay Mayor Ron Lane) should have sent the letter to us, not put it in the paper.”

In the December 20, 2013 edition of the Recorder, Mr. Lane expressed his frustration with neighbouring area communities not coming forward with funding support for needed repairs of the roof on the Gore Bay Medical Centre building.

“The municipalities from Billings west and First Nations communities should be clear on what we want these funds for; roof repairs on the medical centre, and fixing the handicapped access on the east side of the medical centre as it needs extensive work,” Mayor Lane was quoted as saying. “Every citizen of Western Manitoulin uses the medical centre, and when a major project needs to be undertaken, everyone needs to, if they can, help provide some support. So far we have had very little success (in garnering donations) and I find it kind of discouraging,” he said, noting the Gore Bay Rotary Club had provided funding support of $6,000, and the medical centre has received a $500 donation from Billings Township.

Mayor Lane noted, “I’ve sent two letters previously (in 2012 and 2013) to all area municipalities and First Nations communities and will make a third attempt, and hopefully this will meet with more success.”

“We asked for a town representative to come and meet with council,” said Councillor Hayden.

“The town should have come and talked to us and asked us what they needed,” said Councillor Bob Glasgow.

Mr. Hayden wondered why the town didn’t have a capital reserve set aside for situations like this for the medical centre.

“I read the letter in the paper and thought it was a bit rash,” said Gordon/Barrie Island Reeve Jack Brady. “I wouldn’t mind us providing some support but we hadn’t received any more information.”

Mr. Hayden informed council the medical centre is a rental building and the doctors rent space from the town in the building.

“The (Manitoulin Island Country Club) needs a new roof, is the town going to help out with the costs of that?” asked Mr. Glasgow, who said council hasn’t said yes or no to providing funding, but wants more information on the project.

Councillor Hayden said, “I’ve had several people ask me what is going on and I said we have been waiting for more information. I have no trouble as far as council is concerned giving Jack support on the letter (he and Burpee Mills Reeve Ken Noland have sent to Gore Bay council).”

“I don’t want to start a war, but we need some more information on this issue,” said Councillor Glasgow. “Starting with why the funds are needed and how much is needed.”

“Are we in favour of signing and sending the letter?” asked Reeve Brady, to which council indicated it was in support.

The letter sent by both Burpee Mills and Gordon Barrie Island councils and signed by Reeves Ken Noland and Jack Brady to the town of Gore Bay, dated January 15, 2014 states: “Dear councillors: We wish to reply to the public admonishment, by Mr. Lane, of Western Manitoulin municipalities who chose not to provide a donation to assist in replacing the roof the Gore Bay Medical Centre building.”

“Our townships, generally, do not provide maintenance funding for buildings owned by other municipalities,” the letter states. “Our townships encourage their committees of council to provide financial assistance to the Gore Bay Medical Centre to purchase or replace medical equipment or to provide improved services. Our municipalities have a history of generosity in funding purchases of equipment for the use of physicians at the Gore Bay Medical Centre. Although our municipal councils do not favour the use of tax revenue for donations, we assure you that it is our council’s priority to support our local health services.”

“We request that your representative, in the future, make an informative presentation to neighbouring municipalities to discuss issues of mutual concern,” the letter continues. “Issuing regressive, hurtful public statements will benefit none of our Western Manitoulin residents. We anticipate a spirit of positive interaction between the leaders and councils of Western Manitoulin.”

Tom Sasvari