County moves to take over community facility
South Peace News
An outdoor ice rink built in Grouard last year will be taken over by Big Lakes County for the short term.
At its regular meeting Nov. 14, council approved a motion for the county to assume interim ownership of the structure built by the Grouard Community Association, which constructed the facility west of the fire hall without signing an agreement with the county.
“The rink’s current location infringes on a total of six county-owned lots, three zoned hamlet residential and three zoned parks and institutional,” said Heather Nanninga, director of corporate services.
“The rink was intended to be placed on the lots zoned parks and institutional.”
While the county did verbally grant permission to install the rink on three undeveloped lots with a requirement to sign a lease agreement for use of the space, the GCA subsequently neglected the lease agreement and installed the rink across three different lots, Nanninga said.
“Community members have indicated to administration that they would like to see the rink installed correctly and maintained for the community to use,” she added.
County administration first gave the CGA until Oct, 31 to become compliant. GCA was asked to comply with the grant policy, permitted bylaws and enter into a land lease with the county.
CGA did not meet the requirements.
Council decided to take on the structure after a motion made by Grouard Councillor Fern Welch.
“The county should assume the rink until a new community organization is found to take it over,” Welch suggested.
“Let’s fix it up and use it.”
North Gilwood – Triangle Councillor Ken Matthews suggested the rink be offered to a community group elsewhere in the county.
However, Welch was firm the rink remain where it is.
“It’s got to remain in Grouard.”
GCA has reportedly struggled in the past few months.
“Given the county has recently evicted the GCA from the old Grouard Fire Hall and terminated an equipment lease, it is unlikely that the association will be open to surrendering an asset,” Nanninga said.
“In six to nine months, the GCA will be struck as a society, so the county shouldn’t conduct any further financial transactions or enter into any agreements with the association,” she added.
County administration sought legal advice from lawyers Reynolds Mirth Richards and Farmer, who recommends the county issue a stop order which requires the GCA to stop using the rink or allowing the rink to be used by the public.