Alvinston Optimist get $80k loan from Brooke-Alvinston


Heather Wright/The Independent

Brooke-Alvinston will secure an $80,000 loan for the Alvinston Optimist so the long-talked about pavilion project can go ahead.
But at least one person, Mayor Dave Ferguson, is concerned the club is using the township as a bank.
The idea of erecting a pavilion at the Brooke-Alvinston-Inwood Community Centre goes back six years. Before he became a councillor, Jamie Armstrong came to council as a member of the Optimist Club proposing a massive renovation of the complex. The Optimist goal in 2015 was to raise enough money to renovate washrooms and dressing rooms, build a new canteen, provide a heated viewing area, and build a pavilion in a project which was estimated to cost $1 million at the time.
But Armstrong and the Optimist grew frustrated as they applied for grants and failed to get funding. Armstrong pointed to the council putting money into other projects and not supporting the Optimist building project as one of the reasons the grants were rejected.
The project was broken into phases, but as that happened, the cost of construction climbed and the Optimist put fundraising on hold.
In 2019, council agreed to work with Armstrong – now a councillor – and the club on a pavilion attached to the arena near the ball diamonds. Thursday, Councillor Wayne Deans and Deputy Frank Nemcek asked council approve a motion by Armstrong which would see the town take out an $80,000 loan for the project which is now estimated to be about $356,000.
Ferguson objected. He says for years, the municipality stood back and allowed the Optimist Club to apply for grants for the project, hoping with only one project asking for cash, it would be more likely for approval. “These have been multiple applications and they have always been turned down; they’ve always said no,” says Ferguson adding that some times the municipality found it had been “blocked” from applying for grants because the Optimist had already submitted for their pavilion project.
“The Optimists are now requesting $80,000 (previously approved by council) of taxpayers’ money from the municipality and a further $80,000 loan.
“Are we now a bank or a lending institution? Which group now heads to the municipality for a long-term loan for new buildings, such as the Legion which is looking forward to putting up a new facility across the road; they are a service club in the community also.”
Armstrong argued the Optimist pavilion would become municipal property, unlike the new Legion.
And while Ferguson was sharply opposed, other councillors were more concerned about the interest rate the municipal treasurer suggested – six per cent over five years.
Nemcek, who is also a member of the Optimist Club – suggested forcing the club to repay the loan in five years might limit what it can do to help in the community. And he asked the treasurer if there was a better interest rate available.
Stephen Ikert said he had charged the rate because the township would incur legal costs as well as financing costs. In the end, Armstrong said the Optimists would pay all the legal fees if a lower interest rate could be obtained. Ikert will be coming back to council with the proposed terms in the future.