The conclusion to a months-long debate over a proposed $3.7-million recreation complex in a southwest Manitoba community is in sight after a public hearing on Thursday, which will result in a decision one way or the other in six to eight weeks.
The project has been a point of contention in Deloraine, Man., since its inception in 2015, said Gordon Weidenhamer, reeve of Deloraine-Winchester.
Weidenhamer said around 100 people came forward with letters protesting the price tag of the build after an August referendum ended with 334 votes in favour of proceeding and 327 against.
The proposal at issue is a combination of a community hall and three-sheet curling rink, following the demolition of the previous buildings in the community, which Weidenhamer said were aging and damaged.
“The controversy, of course, is dollars and cents,” Weidenhamer said. “I think everybody agrees … there’s a need in the community for that.”
‘Lifeline of a small town’
Deloraine resident Donna Tompsett criticized what she perceived as a “lack of transparency” in the way the project was run, and said she would rather see that money spent elsewhere.
Residents’ taxes will increase to cover some of the cost of the project, and Tompsett said the community is already struggling with higher taxes and lower property values.
“None of my reasons include me being against the next generation having what they want,” she said.
“I just would never vote yes for anything that I do not feel that I’m as informed as reasonably possible about, or that I have at the very least considered the long-term negative implications of.”
Weidenhamer said the municipality held a public consultation on the project and had put together a feasibility committee to discuss it, but hadn’t conducted a formal feasibility study.
Resident Bob Caldwell said rising taxes have created the “perfect storm” in the community, but he didn’t mind paying extra to have a curling rink and community hall.
“I just think it’s…