Wellesley Township declined a request from Woolwich to contribute $50,000 towards rebuilding the Heidelberg community centre at Tuesday night’s committee meeting, citing the need to focus on capital projects in their township first as a reason for not helping.
The community centre is located on Woolwich land, but Heidelberg straddles the border of both townships.
Wellesley receives none of the rental revenue from the property and pays no regular maintenance and repairs. The current building has been deemed unusable.
The staff report put before councillors recommends they refuse to contribute to the project, noting that Wellesley has spent approximately $2 million on capital expenditures over the past 10 years on the St. Clements community centre, arena, sports fields and parks.
The Woolwich plan is to build an accessible community multi-use room, washrooms, and upgraded kitchen/concession space to be attached to a picnic shelter and a maintenance/storage area.
“We have a list a mile long of things that we have to do in our community,” said Mayor Joe Nowak.
“Historically we haven’t done anything like this, even our own facilities. We look at arenas in Wellesley and St. Clements, and in Linwood, all the work that was done in Linwood, all the money was raised from the community. That wasn’t money that came from the tax dollars.”
The Community Parks, Recreation & Culture Strategic Master Plan identifies the need for a new Heidelberg community centre, but the document doesn’t make a recommendation.
Nowak added when it comes to capital projects like this it’s just something they don’t do, even in their own township.
“I understand the want and the need, but we have 11,000 people in this community and I find it hard for me to rationalize having them put money into another community,” Nowak said.
The total cost of the project is $300,000. Woolwich suggested each township contribute $50,000, along with $50,000 from the Heidelberg Recreation Service Board through fundraising, and $150,000 from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
Coun. Peter van der Maas asked if it would be possible to give a one-time contribution to the community centre in the future. The report indicates a few points in the past where the township has contributed to community projects in such a way.
Nowak replied if that was something council was interested in exploring then they could look at it around budget time.
“It’s not an easy decision to make. It’s a very difficult decision to make. I’m quite sure that this project is going to go ahead with or without us,” Nowak said.
The Heidelberg Recreation Association has been awarded a Trillium grant as a result of their Build a Better Booth campaign, aimed at improving the deteriorated field house. Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Michael Harris will make the official grant announcement on Saturday at 2 p.m. at the park during the community cleanup day.