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City councillors deny funding for popular toboggan hill

'We’re not in the business of funding a for-profit business,' councillor says during budget talks; Official earlier said hill could be shut down without funding
Tobogan
The toboggan hill at the Couchiching Golf and Country Club is shown in this file photo.

A request for the city to provide funding for a popular toboggan hill in town has been shot down.

Ed Novosky, president of the Couchiching Golf and Country Club’s board of directors, had asked the city to provide $5,000 per year for as long as the hill remains open for public use.

During Thursday’s budget committee meeting, staff recommended the city contribute $12,000, that the club purchase a snow fence and associated accessories at a cost of about $2,000 and that the club be responsible for the annual installation and removal of the snow fence.

Amanpreet Singh Sidhu, city solicitor and general manager of corporate services, said the motion put some responsibility on the club, an indication that “it’s not a one-way street.”

Staff did not consult with the club before drafting the motion, he said, because they were not directed by council to do so.

Sidhu noted the club wanted the funding so it could be put toward maintenance of the hill in the spring.

Novosky told OrilliaMatters in October the money would also help with other costs, including water and hydro. He also said a denial of the requested funding could lead the club to close the hill to the public.

Heating and other costs can be expensive, Coun. Mason Ainsworth said, but added “that has nothing to do” with the toboggan hill. He also said it was “really unfortunate they have this ultimatum” when it comes to potentially denying access to the hill in the winter.

The city currently supports the hill by paying for the insurance for that area of the property, erecting and removing the fencing, and inspections, among other duties.

City staff are there four times a week to clean up litter, put the fence back in place if it’s been knocked down, and remove snow jumps that get built on the hill, said Andrew Schell, general manager of environment and infrastructure services.

“The city's doing their part with having our staff come by,” said Coun. Rob Kloostra.

“We’re not in the business of funding a for-profit business.”

Coun. Ralph Cipolla asked what the “alternative” was for sledders should the hill be closed to the public.

Schell noted there is a hill at Homewood Park and a smaller one at Walter Henry Park.

For kids in the north ward, that’s too far to go, said Coun. Pat Hehn.

“I would hate to see that hill taken away from our kids,” she said.

Budget committee voted against staff’s recommendation to provide funding.

Thursday’s decision was made during the final day of operating budget deliberations. The capital budget will be discussed next week. All decisions require ratification at a special council meeting Dec. 6.




Nathan Taylor

About the Author: Nathan Taylor

Nathan Taylor is an experienced multimedia journalist and editor who covers Orillia and other parts of Simcoe County.
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