Mayor’s recreation centre video raises eyebrows
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | October 4, 2018|
Dysart incumbent mayor Murray Fearrey has generated interest this week by posting a video to his Facebook re-election page talking about a future recreation centre for the township.
In the professionally-produced clip, replete with architectural drawings, Fearrey says, “if there’s ever been a time as a municipality to develop a comprehensive recreation centre the time is now.”
The mayoral candidate goes on to say it would take care of the needs of the entire community, especially families who have been travelling to neighbouring towns to use their recreational facilities. Later in the video, Fearrey walks on a 65-acre parcel of township-owned land off of Harburn Road, near the cemetery, saying the site is ripe for development. He concludes with, “I have the confidence in this community we can do what we want to do when we all pull together.”
The Highlander asked Fearrey if he had ever discussed his plans with township staff or council colleagues. The paper also asked if there was any substance to Fearrey’s vision, including studies or costings. Fearrey replied in an e-mail, “of course it lacks a lot of detail. It’s a concept and an idea if elected I would pursue with staff and council.”
He said the land was bought for gravel deposits and has been worked for many years but is not being used now.
“I think people are trying to analyze a concept like it’s a proposal and searching for details that will unfold if a new council sees the merit in it. And, it cannot be a burden on taxpayers. At this point, it is something, if elected, I will pursue in a progressive businesslike public process.”
Andrea Roberts, who is running againstFearrey for mayor, told The Highlander by phone, “it is 100 per cent a campaign vision, or promise he is trying to make. There has been no discussion on this property, and zero discussion in this term of council about any recreational facility.”
She added, “he’s had 40 years as mayor to make recreation a priority and as far as I’m concerned he has not.”
During the last round of Dysart budget talks, Roberts said she tried to get $60,000 set aside in a reserve to make future upgrades to the A.J. LaRue community centre, upstairs in the arena, and her motion was defeated by Fearrey and council. She added that a delegation to the last council meeting called for council to put annual funding into the tennis courts, which are cracking.
She said if council cannot take care of its existing recreational facilities, how will it be able to afford a multimillion-dollar recreation complex. Roberts said she’d love a community swimming pool within a recreational facility but said no one lower-tier municipality can afford it, and it would have to be a county-wide initiative.
The video has generated a lot of comments on social media. Stuart Taylor said, “So, we’re to believe this now after Mayor Fearrey has sidelined it his last 12 years or so. It’s a campaign ploy that no one should fall for.” Bud Cooper wrote, “This is what I call progress. Haliburton County as a whole needs to progress. We can’t sit in the 1950s and say we will not allow new businesses or expansion. We need to change with the times. Good on Murray Fearrey. I do hope that Haliburton will be as vibrant a village as it was years ago.”
Wilma Vahrmeyer said, “I think these are beautiful, amazing dreams and plans as long as the people here are included and the council is above board and transparent with it all. And a question. What’s the cost?”
LISA GERVAIS is the editor for The Highlander.