At the Jan. 27 meeting, council voted 6-1 to allocate $25,000 for the washroom facilities that will be built in conjunction with the proposed Taber spray park, sourcing that money from town reserves. Coun. Laura Ross-Giroux opposed the motion.
“I’m really surprised we don’t have a washroom there already with the skateboard park and ball diamonds, and it would really take a lot of load off this washroom (Administration Building),” said Coun. Jack Brewin, prior to the vote. “It’s a great idea, and I support it myself.”
According to the council request for decision, funds for a washroom facility had not been included during budget deliberations in 2013 when the spray park proposal came before council, and consequently there had been no money allocated for a washroom facility in the 2014 budget.
On Jan. 16, the town received a letter requesting $25,000 in funding support for the washroom facilities to be constructed as part of the Taber spray park proposal. In the letter, Bruce Warkentin, writing on behalf of the Taber spray park committee, detailed their reasoning behind requesting the additional funds from the Town of Taber.
“In our last meeting, we had requested some additional information regarding the 2015 capital budget allotment of $100,000 that the previous council had set aside to build washroom facilities in several locations around Taber. One of these locations was the skate park. As you are aware, our project has incorporated a shared washroom and change facilities with the skate park that we estimate will cost approximately $50,000.”
“We are requesting that mayor and council approve the use of $25,000 of the existing $100,000 capital budget allotment to share in the cost of this shared facility between our current project and the existing skate park.”
An allotment of $100,000 had been set aside to build washrooms in several locations in Taber as part of the 2014-2016 capital budget, however those funds had been earmarked for 2015, as part of the three year capital plan. Previous councils have regularly deferred the expenditure, pushing it to future years. The amount is currently based on the provision of a washroom near the ball diamonds at Ken McDonald Memorial Sports Park, including construction of water and sewer mains, while other locations under consideration for construction of washroom facilities are the town-owned sports fields near St. Patrick’s School, and near the ball diamonds, skate park and tennis courts at Confederation Park.
“In consultation with the Parkside Manor group, they would love us to have a bathroom there, and a water fountain, so it would take the pressure off the kids running in to use their facilities,” said Coun. Joe Strojwas. “I think it would be very beneficial all the way around.”
Coun. Randy Sparks took a dimmer view of the funding request, suggesting the spray park committee should have done a better job of including the funding proposal in their original presentation, instead of coming to council for additional funding in 2014.
“I believe council was led to believe that was in the original price that they had given us. Even though it’s needed there, I just don’t like these add-ons coming forth to council, when council is giving land, and taking over the maintenance and running of the facility after. We were led to believe that this was all included in the original scope, and the original cost that was given us. Twenty-five thousand dollars may not sound like a lot, but when we’re asking where this is going to come from, that sheds a little bit different light on this whole situation.”
Coun. Sparks went on to note he was in support of the motion, but only because he supported the project as a whole.
“I’m in support of this motion only because I’m in support of the spray park. I’m not in support of all of a sudden this add on without a whole lot of thought going in as to where this money was going to come from. If we’re told that the cost of these things are included in the number they’ve given us, then that should be it. If that’s the number, that’s the number. You don’t come to the town after the fact and say ‘oh, by the way, we need another $25,000’. Tell us that right from the start, and then we can make a decision. Even though I’m very disappointed in this coming back to council, I will support the motion because I support the project.”
Coun. Laura Ross-Giroux also expressed disappointment with the request, while warning granting the present funding request could be a slippery slope for town council.
“I wonder, though, what is to stop them from coming back for more money, for something else? They came to us saying this was all to be included, and that certainly moved me to favour this in the first place. Our ongoing maintenance on this is going to be extremely high. The $25,000 we might end up paying for in the first year. I personally cannot support this motion.”