Still waiting for blue skies

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At the North Grenville Council meeting on October 10, a special motion was added to the agenda at the beginning of the meeting. This meant that the background information that is normally used to evaluate the motion was not in the agenda package that is published on the municipal website the Friday before the meeting. Therefore, the public wouldn’t have known about it unless they showed up at the meeting.

This special motion was read by CAO Brian Carré, who also provided a brief background and reason for the motion. The final section of the motion requested that “Council direct staff to submit a funding application to the EODP in the amount of $100,000, with matching funds being shared by the Municipality in partnership with the CEPEO (Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l”Ontario) for a total project cost of $200,000”.

In anticipation of a positive outcome in the negotiations between the municipality of North Grenville and the Provincial Government to buy the land occupied by the former Kemptville College, the municipality wanted to make sure that they were ready to respond quickly, to be able to create a business plan, and start-up a not-for-profit corporation. These are considered to be the next critical steps in the municipality’s plans to develop a new community and education hub, as outlined in the Business Feasibility Assessment completed by BDO in March of 2016.

According to Brian, part of the reason for the last-minute motion was the very tight deadline to apply for federal government funding through the Eastern Ontario Development Program (EODP). After speaking with Grenville Community Futures Development Corporation (GCFDC), who administer EODP, he realized that, if the municipality wanted to apply for funding to help pay for these critical steps, they would need to do it immediately, because of the looming deadline.

When asked why the CEPEO was involved in providing money for this initiative, the CAO replied that, throughout the negotiations with the Provincial Government, the school board was very supportive and regularly asked how they could help and how they could work with North Grenville to become an active partner. The money was offered, so the municipality accepted the offer and used it to leverage a larger funding request from EODP. Combining the $50,000 from CEPEO and $50,000 requested from Council by the approved motion, this would be used to apply for $100,000, making a total of $200,000. At best, EODP will only match the existing money contributed by the applicant. So, it is possible that the funding received will be less than the requested amount, but Brian was confident that EODP would see the magnitude of the project and grant the full amount of requested funds.

Even if the negotiation on the future of the College fails, the CAO stated that the municipality had 60 days to decide what they wanted to do, if the EODP application was successful. In other words, they could decline the EODP funding and return the money to CEPEO.

For quite some time now, we’ve heard from the municipality that negotiations to buy the former Kemptville College are close to being completed. Brian had set a goal of having negotiations completed in October. Though, as of press time, there was no word on a final decision regarding negotiations, it appears that the municipality is pretty confident about a positive outcome based on this funding application. After all, it wouldn’t make sense to apply, if the CAO didn’t think that negotiations would ultimately be successful. Though the waiting game is not over, it certainly appears more and more that we are likely headed for blue skies.

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