Councillor upset with town staff
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Feb 26, 2007  |  Vote 0    0

Councillor upset with town staff

St. Marys Journal Argus

Councillor Dave Cunningham lashed out at town staff this week after learning that town administration were making executive decisions without council's approval.

"It has to stop," Councillor Cunningham said in the wake of town management deciding to close the Town Hall auditorium to the public.

"Once again I'm disappointed. The town administration has made decisions without instruction from council. We've seen examples of this in the past and it has to stop."

In his report to council at last week's meeting, Cunningham addressed an article on renovations to the Town Hall auditorium. Community Players, he noted, was told that the auditorium would not be available this fall but Cunningham wants to clarify that "there will be no renovations to the auditorium."

He agrees that the balcony "has been put off limits" and there are also limits on the number of people who can use the facility at one time, however, "there is no restriction on the use of that space."

He was clear to say that until "town council has made a decision, it will be available."

Renovations may be part of a future plan, says Cunningham, but that will be council's call.

Unfortunately, the Community Players have already made alternate arrangements for their fall production.

(Last month Jim Bryson explained to the Journal Argus that it is necessary to close the auditorium as of June 1 to the public because of safety concerns and plans to restore the stage.)

Cunningham also took issue with Bryson being called the town's 'Facilities Manager' in a recent issue of the paper.

"Never to this day have we authorized Jim Bryson to be facilities manager. Until the issues with Perth South and the arena board issues are resolved he is still the arena manager. Council has not approved a facilities manager," Cunningham added.

Heritage St. Marys was also unaware of the plans for the Town Hall auditorium. The Town Hall building is designated as a heritage building with Heritage Ontario and the heritage group is concerned that a restoration be done with that in mind.

"We were caught flat-footed, too. What we've done is communicated this and have written a letter to the Mayor . . . saying it's great if they plan to do a restoration but we were a bit surprised at how long they were proposing the town hall (auditorium) to be out of commission," Bridget Elliott, Heritage St. Marys Co-Chair says.

"We are very supportive of the community groups that use it, but that if they (town) are doing work we were reminding them that it is a designated building and that we want to see things done with heritage concerns in mind."

As part of the Ontario Heritage Act there are exemptions for historical buildings and Elliott says "for things like the height of railings so they can find other ways of conforming to code which means you won't mess up the building."

Dave Cunningham agreed. "For designated buildings we can't just go ahead with changes -- it has to have proper approval and if it needs to include Heritage St. Marys then so be it."

Heritage St. Marys is also concerned with the renovations planned for the VIA Rail station as it is also a designated building. They ask the mayor in their letter that they wish to know what is proposed before work begins there.

Mayor Tony Winter was unavailable for comment before press time.

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