Parochialism hurts us all
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | Feb. 21, 2019|
Minden Hills Councillor Pam Sayne is right when she says the debate over the refurbishment of the S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena in Minden has polarized the community. It certainly has divided people in the township of Minden Hills itself. It has also sparked a larger countywide discussion, one that some councillors have so far chosen not to partake in.
In Minden, there are wealthy waterfront homeowners who will not flinch at the tax-related implications of an $11.5 million loan that will have to be paid off, with interest, over the next 25 to 30 years. However, there are also a lot of people who are working for minimum wage and bringing home our estimated median income of $27,000-a-year after taxes. They may indeed flinch.
Then there is the divide between the arena users and the non-arena users. Sure, there are a lot of families involved with hockey and figure skating in Minden. There are also a lot who aren’t. For some, it is simply because they cannot afford the sport.
On a larger scale, we also know that there are some who would desperately love a public swimming pool somewhere in Haliburton County. These are the folks who are driving back and forth to Bracebridge every week to use the pool there. One of them is now even trying to organize a bus to take families over.
In Minden Hills, let’s face it, a swimming pool was never going to be part of the equation. The initial task force never felt it had a mandate from council to investigate a pool, so didn’t. Council went through the motions of appeasing those lobbying for a pool but never delivered more than lip service about bad experiences elsewhere. They never really went looking for any good experiences with pools in small jurisdictions. So, that leaves some Minden ratepayers with a very bad taste in their mouth - having to finance a centre that doesn’t have what they want.
On the other hand, there are those who firmly believe that having a modern, state-of-the art arena, with its accompanying bells and whistles is the best thing since sliced bread. They boast about the walking track and gym. Some residents are going to be thrilled about those additions.
The problem for us is the future of recreational facilities in Haliburton County and whether Minden Hills, Dysart et al, Algonquin Highlands and Highlands East should have had a countywide discussion. In Dysart, we saw former Mayor Murray Fearrey go it alone in raising the spectre of a multi-million-dollar recreational facility off of Harburn Road. In Minden Hills, we’ve seen Mayor Brent Devolin, Deputy Mayor Lisa Schell, Councillor-at-Large Ron Nesbitt and Councillor Jean Neville go it alone for the Minden ice palace. We are not aware of any of the municipalities sitting down together to discuss a centre replete with a pool for the whole county. And that is a shame.
As Councillor Pam Sayne noted, the parochial rivalry between Minden and Dysart is as alive and well as ever. It’s not much different to the planning that went into building two smaller hospitals years back, when a collaborative approach might have delivered a bigger regional hospital that could have attracted specialists and more equipment.
In all cases, everybody’s heart was in the right place. However, sometimes you have to step back from your little piece of turf to see the expansiveness of your lawn and what could be seeded there for the future
Lisa Gervais is the editor for The Highlander.