Renfrew – The Renfrew Tennis Club was officially informed last Wednesday by City Council that its 40-year-old tennis club, built and paid for by its members, along with the tennis courts, fences and other infrastructure associated with the club will be deleted. starting this week to make way for a new aboriginal cultural center.
The municipal land that housed the club will become the site of the new cultural center dedicated to local First Nations as part of a multi-million dollar project to expand the 41-year-old Ma-te-way activity center.
The decision to remove the tennis facility was made at a special council meeting on Tuesday night as Mayor Don Eady and council wanted the issue resolved so there was no delay in construction overall of the massive expansion project slated to begin this week with a completion date of end 2022.
In the weeks leading up to last week’s board meeting, several club members called on the city to try and develop a base of support for their cause in order to leave things as they were. Over the past two months, there has been a series of meetings between city recreation staff, city councilor and recreation committee chair Tom Sidney, and various committee members including current chair Troy Lariviere and the long-time member Robert Pelletier.
Instead of solving the problems first, animosity grew when members discovered they would have to pay a one-time fee of $ 75 as well as annual rates that were to increase by $ 10 for nine consecutive years. Several members were not impressed with the financial costs and argue that the tariff increase is a serious problem. Speaking on behalf of the club, Mr Lariviere said escalating annual membership rates have many members worried it will spell the end of the club.
“The trend in Ontario has seen membership drop and in some cases the end of clubs and tennis in small communities,” he said. “Our members are really upset by how it all turned out. Unlike most modern tennis clubs which are taken over by a local government, they have either quit their club membership or some have given up on the sport altogether. Many children do not play hockey and tennis was a good place for them. We have had great volunteers like Garry Irving who gave hundreds of hours of training to kids and those who always fix something to keep our club in good shape. We are all proud of our club.
Mr. Lariviere and other club members met with members of the recreation committee a day before the special council meeting in a last ditch effort to try and maintain the current state of the tennis courts. The contentious issue of the recreation committee’s recommended fee adjustments was the main sticking point that led club members to contend with another fee schedule that they felt was both fair and, if passed. , would deter current members from leaving the club.
At the special meeting, council passed a number of resolutions, including the excavation of the current asphalt-covered areas and the dismantling of the tennis site this week to meet the deadline. The pricing structure proposed by the Renfrew Tennis Club, which included a large donation for the long-term longevity of the new tennis courts, was rejected.
“The outright rejection of our offer was never taken seriously,” said Mr. Larivière. “We offered the city $ 10,000 in cash up front and increased membership fees by $ 10 each year for three years. Our current membership is $ 85, so in the first year we would increase it to $ 95 with the additional $ 10 going to the city. “This means that our 150 members produce $ 1,500 in the first year on top of the initial $ 10,000. It would increase by $ 10 each for the next two years. After three years, based on 150 adult members, the city would now get $ 4,500 per year in direct benefits. ”
Despite the counter-offer to the city, the council. Sidney said it was a tie-breaker for any person or group wishing to use the facilities.
“In summary, the tennis club is no different from the Renfrew hockey, soccer and baseball teams who rent the required facilities at a fixed price,” he said ahead of last week’s meeting. “In addition, there could very well be a possible influx of residents deciding to play tennis for the first time, as the courts will be open to the general public. These courts are not limited to tennis, as the local pickle ball league wants to play Ma-te-way and the new tennis courts will address this problem. ”
When the board met last week, everyone was well aware that there could be negative reactions from some who would not be in favor of this decision. According to Larivière, members were receiving mixed signals on how the imposed fee hike will be used.
“At the special council meeting last week, Director Kevin Hill said excess revenue generated from annual court fees goes into the funding formula for the expansion project,” Lariviere told the Chief. “In the meantime, we’ve been told there is a charge for resurfacing the land every seven years and completely rebuilding it every 30 years. It’s just very confusing.
During the special council meeting, a resolution demanded that the court fence be considered excess and allow the Township of Horton to remove it at its own expense for use on its outdoor rink; the second authorized staff to start building six new courts, using quality contractors. Another motion called for council to approve the court membership fees and hourly rate. All actions lead to a memorandum of understanding with the tennis club which will be presented to the board before construction is completed.
“I was very pleased that council unanimously approved all of the recreation committee’s recommendations to move forward with the relocation of the city-owned courts,” the city councilor said. Sidney said. “The two additional fields (six in total) will allow the recreation department to now offer several snowshoe sports to our residents. ”
When the time came to call for a vote on each item, Councilor Sandi Heins called for a recorded vote on each item. Councilor Andrew Evans and Warden Peter Emon were absent during the work. The other members – Councilors Arlene Jamieson, Mike Coulas, Tom Sidney and Mayor Eady, as well as the city councilor. Heins – voted unanimously in favor of motions calling for the removal of existing tennis courts and other tennis related matters.
As expected, Mr. Larivière said members were bitterly disappointed with the board’s decisions.
“We were very disappointed with the decision to adopt all of the recommended motions and I wrote to council to approve four of the five motions,” he said. “However, our club are insisting that the proposed fee structure be rescinded. Instead of embracing and using RTC’s vast experience in delivering exceptional leisure programs without incurring any debt over 41 years, the tennis executive was made redundant throughout the planning process.
“This action has put the Town of Renfrew at risk of losing many long-term tennis volunteers, all of whom provide quality programming that attracts patrons to the courts and may affect future use of the new courts.
The 76,500 square foot expansion project at Ma-te-way will see the current arena and hall expanded to include an Indigenous cultural center, an NHL-sized ice rink, six locker rooms, an elevated walking track, a fitness center and gymnasium of regulatory size, multi-function rooms, administrative offices and premises for rent. The expansion will improve access to cultural infrastructure and better meet community needs through improved and accessible recreational facilities.
The total cost of the project is estimated at around $ 16 million.