Blyth 140th rental fee "offends" volunteer - Feb. 9, 2017
BY DENNY SCOTT
Crystal Taylor, member of the Royal Canadian Legion Blyth Branch and the Blyth 140th reunion committee, is concerned those running the township are losing sight of who built the community of Blyth up in past years.
Taylor, through her efforts with the Blyth 140th committee, discovered that the municipality would not waive the rental fee of local facilities for the group, which she felt was indicative of a bad attitude towards the people in the community.
“I’ve been volunteering in the Blyth area for 36 years,” Taylor said. “Back in the day, when we were planning community events and we needed a facility that belonged to the community, we were never charged for it, ever.”
She said she had been part of drives to have the Grade 8 graduation and public school Christmas concerts held at the Blyth and District Community Centre and Blyth Memorial Hall, respectively, and, during a recent meeting with North Huron staff, was discouraged by the fact that the 140th committee was being asked to pay for the rental of the facility.
“I was offended we were asked to pay full price for the arena floor for the event,” she said.
While North Huron Council Representative Bill Knott explained that there was a tiered rental system with community groups and functions like the Blyth 140th committee paying less than commercial renters, Taylor wasn’t satisfied with the answer.
“This is a community event that happens, at most, once every 10 years,” she said. “To pay for the rental honestly makes me feel like we’re losing our sense of community. The community raised the money to build the arena.”
Knott said it would be wonderful if rental fees didn’t have to be charged for community groups, but pointed out that facilities built by the community then handed to a municipality don’t usually come with finances to maintain the facility.
“Communities tend to build these things for today and forget about tomorrow,” he said. “There are maintenance costs over time and there is no money saved to address issues at the facility.”
Taylor said, even to display a movie on an exterior wall of the facility would cost $75.
“As they were explaining this, I thought to myself, we’re losing something,” she said.
Knott encouraged Taylor to gather those who felt the same way, write down their points and address council with the concerns, again stating that buildings need to be maintained and if rentals aren’t charged, those costs would fall to taxpayers.
Taylor said she understood maintenance costs, but said a once-in-a-decade event like the Blyth 140th celebration should be treated differently than annual events.