The Municipality of the District of Lunenburg (MODL) and the Town of Bridgewater (TOB) agreed at a joint in-camera meeting October 3 to take over the management of the Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre (LCLC) and integrate their three recreation services.
In special council meetings following the session, the two municipalities voted to amend the Lunenburg County Multi-Purpose Centre Corporation (LCMPCC) Agreement which governs their association with the LCLC.
A press release issued by MODL indicates that the LCLC's management and administration will be carried out under the jurisdiction of a management board, which will consist of three elected representatives from MODL's council and three from TOB's council.
"The implementation of this is the overarching operation and management of the LCLC will be through the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg's director of recreation," the TOB's chief administrative officer (CAO), Richard MacLellan, explained further to LighthouseNOW.
According to MacLellan, MODL's Trudy Payne will be tasked with integrating recreational programming through the LCLC in order to eliminate any duplication of services between MODL, TOB and the LCLC.
MacLellan said the move is "all about accountability to the taxpayer, and transparency."
It gives the councils "authority to be accountable for the financial and programming decisions at the LCLC.
"As well, it is about some efficiency and finding opportunities to integrate work to deliver better overall recreation and economic development outcomes to Lunenburg County," commented the CAO.
MacLellan said the agreement covers all of Bridgewater's recreation activities, though it won't be all of MODL's.
"The municipality obviously has rural aspects to their recreation service delivery that there wouldn't be duplication at the LCLC or the Town of Bridgewater. They do have some differences."
The arrangement took effect on October 4.
MacLellan declined to comment on what this means for the LCLC's current general manager, Kevin Benjamin.
"I'm not going to speak to staffing matters at this time," he said.
According to the news release, in the coming weeks, Kevin Malloy, the CAO for MODL, and MacLellan will develop a detailed implementation plan.
The relationship between the LCLC and the two municipalities that help fund it has been proved challenging in the past.
The recreation centre's board of directors and members of TOB's and MODL's councils have often been at logger heads regarding the amount of taxpayers' money the centre has received, and continues to ask for, and how it is being spent.
Last December the board admitted it was straining to repay $3.6-million in loans the two municipalities provided as part of the initial agreement to cover cost overruns as well as funding and grant shortfalls from construction of the centre.
Arguing that the loans inhibited the centre's ability to move forward, the board wanted the municipalities to write them off.
MODL and TOB did not agree on whether the loan must be paid back.
Prior to the October 3 decision to collaborate on the management of the LCLC, the two municipalities had been undertaking a scheduled review of their memorandum of understanding with the centre.
In the release, Bridgewater's mayor David Mitchell said, "We believe that an in-house model will allow the LCLC and our recreation services to work jointly and more efficiently, which will ultimately be better for the taxpayer."
MODL's mayor Carolyn Bolivar-Getson added, "This model will give the Councils not only the accountability and responsibility, but also the authority to make decisions that are in the best interest of both municipalities.
"We appreciate the commitment and contributions that have been made to date from the public board members, and thank them for this service. We look forward to continuing to engage the community on their vision for the LCLC," said Bolivar-Getson.