SLED funds approved despite criticism of M-T application by North Huron
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Huron County Council approved $90,000 in Supporting Local Economic Development (SLED) grants at its Oct. 21 meeting.
Council approved nine projects, each of which received $10,000. For this year’s intake, however, there were more applications than money available, meaning applications were turned away.
The approved grants include:
• Central Huron: Installation of automatic door openers through a cost-sharing program with private businesses to increase accessibility and “shopability” in Clinton.
• Exeter BIA and South Huron: The creation of a scavenger hunt-type activity entitled the “White Squirrel Hunt” for visitors to explore Exeter.
• Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh: To aid in the conversion of land owned by the municipality into attainable housing development-ready land and market those opportunities to developers.
• Goderich: To create a salt mine-focused tourism experience that would be virtual in nature, designed for mobile devices.
• Howick: To install WiFi hotspots at the Gorrie pool and create an internet café at both the Howick Community Centre and Belmore Community Arena.
• Bayfield Centre for the Arts: To create an open-air film series in Pioneer Park as part of an effort to establish an annual film festival.
• Morris-Turnberry: To establish an incentive to businesses to develop in Morris-Turnberry by offsetting costs associated with connecting to services.
• Huron Waves Music Festival: To partner with John Miller, the founder of the Stratford Music Festival, to create an annual spring-time music festival in Exeter.
• Huron East: To develop a large painted mural in Seaforth with the artist who developed the butterfly mural on the Square in Goderich, as well as creating artisans’ alley signage and marketing material.
Projects that were not approved include a request to install lights on the Radome in Vanastra, the establishment of a visitor kiosk or information centre and a partnership with local businesses to create bus tours in North Huron, the utilization of the Bayfield Community Centre for corporate meetings and to modify Virtual High School content to include Christ-centred content for the Christian Virtual School.
While councillors had little to say about the list of projects to be approved, North Huron Reeve Bernie Bailey took the opportunity to criticize the Morris-Turnberry application, saying that if the municipality can apply for funding to offset service connection costs, all municipalities should be doing the same. And while he said he didn’t feel that it met the criteria of the SLED grants, Warden Jim Ginn and county staff assured him that the request did meet the criteria, otherwise it wouldn’t have been recommended for approval.
Bailey said he felt that by approving the grant for Morris-Turnberry, it was putting other municipalities in Huron County at a competitive disadvantage.
Morris-Turnberry Mayor Jamie Heffer didn’t have much to say in his municipality’s defence, just that, clearly, the request did meet the criteria, so he didn’t see why it shouldn’t be considered.
No one else spoke against the Morris-Turnberry application, but Goderich Mayor John Grace said he didn’t feel it was appropriate for one municipal representative to criticize an application made by another municipality. He said he didn’t like “the tone” with which the criticism was levelled either.
Ginn supported the application, saying staff members had done their job and the application fit the criteria, so it was only fair to consider it alongside the rest of the applications.
Council approved the grants with Bailey not supporting the motion.