Huron East Mayor calls for upgrades to Brussels Community Centre - Feb. 2, 2017
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Huron East Mayor Bernie MacLellan is encouraged by what’s going on in Brussels and wants the municipality to go the extra mile to support the Brussels, Morris and Grey Community Centre.
At Huron East Council’s Jan. 24 meeting, MacLellan told councillors that his enthusiasm for the centre had been rejuvenated after attending a meeting of the Brussels, Morris and Grey Recreation Board earlier this January.
MacLellan told councillors about a number of events created by the committee that have generated great interest and funds for the centre and how impressed he was with the committee’s initiative and the public’s response to the programming.
“Although the committee was looking at these events as fundraising, I think they also play a more important role,” MacLellan read to councillors from a prepared statement. “It is great the events raise money for the centre, but to me it is a lot more important that the committee has come up with programs that the community is interested in; that the hall is being used for different, sold-out events that are of interest to the residents.”
He said that while ice rentals may not be at an all-time high, the fact that the committee is finding alternate ways to generate both interest and revenue is an encouraging sign for both the community and for council.
“When a community centre has a vibrant, active committee that is engaging the public to use the facility, then I believe they deserve the full support of council,” MacLellan said. “The Brussels, Morris and Grey facility may be past its prime, but the community wants a centre and is actively using it. I would encourage council to allow either the committee or Huron East staff to investigate the actual cost of upgrading the facility.”
MacLellan specifically cited a number of successful initiatives spearheaded by the committee, including the construction of a fairy garden, several paint nights (several of which have sold out) and a sold-out ladies night.
Brussels Ward Councillor David Blaney said that plans to improve the centre did exist and had been generated not too long ago.
MacLellan said he wasn’t sure if improving the community centre would mean repairing the current structure or building a new one, but it had been made clear to him that the centre is very important to the Brussels community and continues to be supported, albeit in different ways than in years past.
MacLellan returned to a concept he had first proposed several months ago of a potential Sprung facility in the place of the current building. The example he had given was of a new centre expected to cost over $35 million that saw cost reductions to one sixth of the price. If those kinds of savings could be applied to a building in Brussels, he said, it may be worth investigating a second time.
However, MacLellan said he wanted to leave it up to Huron East staff and then get input from the committee members to make recommendations before the issue returned to council.
In an interview with The Citizen after the meeting, MacLellan said that his intention in 2017 was to become more involved with recreation in Huron East in order to better understand it.
MacLellan said he hopes to attend meetings of all three municipal recreation boards in the coming year at a rate of one per month, “floating around” among the Brussels, Seaforth and Vanastra recreation committees.
“Recreation is an important aspect of the community,” MacLellan said. “Everybody wants to make sure that options are available.”
He said he wanted to be more educated as to what was going on with each recreation committee, but also to attempt to connect all three by sharing ideas from one committee to the next.
In his first such visit, he said he was blown away with what was happening with the Brussels committee. He said he was impressed with the outside-of-the-box programming being proposed in Brussels and the buy-in from residents.
The enthusiasm of the committee members, he said, was another aspect of the process that really impressed him.
The report will be forthcoming to council at a future meeting. Chief Administrative Officer Brad Knight, in an interview with The Citizen, said he expects that discussions surrounding the report or recreation in Huron East will be part of council’s upcoming budget deliberations that will begin later this month.