PEFAC tells committee municipal support instrumental in provincial, federal grant process

(Gazette file photo)



With the current support cycle coming to a close, a representative from the Prince Edward Fitness and Aquatic Centre took time to thank the Committee of the whole on Thursday for council’s four years of municipal monetary support and illustrate how instrumental the confidence has been to a better bottom line and, ultimately, increased usage.

PEFAC Board member Susan Mathieu provided a deputation on behalf of PEFAC to council members and outlined what the large scale fitness gym and indoor junior olympic pool facility had accomplished in the  past four years and looked ahead to priority plans over the next four years.

It was back in 2014 when PEFAC came to council with a business plan and a request for support by way of an annual $20,000 capital commitment from the municipality to ensure residents of the community wouldn’t have to travel outside Prince Edward County to utilize the benefits of a pool and exercise facility.

In one form or another, the municipality has supported PEFAC since its beginnings when some 14 years ago, when the Lester family announced they would be ceasing operations of the former Rec Plex.

Over the past four year cycle, the facility has taken in over $210,000 in grants from the Parrott Foundation, Trillium Foundation,the Ontario and Canada 150 grant program and the Stark Family Fund

That funding, along with the contribution from the County of Prince Edward, has allowed PEFAC to have invested over $410,000 in facility improvements and equipment to better serve County residents.

Having municipal commitment is key in sourcing other funds from other levels of government and, as a result, we’ve been able to attract and retain more users and members which has allowed us to increase revenues and realize operating efficiencies,” Mathieu said. “Despite significant operating cost increases over the past four years, we’ve be able to improve our overall performance and all of this is a direct result in the commitment you gave us four years ago.”

Capital projects undertaken in the four year time frame include a expansion of the weight room and exercise studio which were both double both in size, improved energy efficient lighting, new floors,  a new vestibule and lobby and reception area as well as a new fire and detecting alarm system

Mathieu said all of these investments along with increases in marketing efforts have had a positive impact in usage.

According to figures provided by Mathieu, the number users of the facility have gone up in a four year period from 2,900 to 5,000- an increase of 72 per cent.

User occasions were calculated at 70,000 last year, a gain of 10,000 over the 2014/15 figures.

The pool continues to be a big draw with the number of swimming lesson entrants swelling to 243, an increase of 22 per cent and public and free swims also seeing increases last year when compared to the 2014-15 numbers.

In terms of the age of users, just under half of the members are between 56-75 years while 17 per cent of the users are 19-30 years old.

This increased foot traffic has lead to improved operating performance on the bottom line.

With improved facilities, increased users and our board’s careful attention of finances, we’ve improved our positioning financially,” Mathieu said.

The facility took in $469,000 in revenues in 2013-14 and that number jumped to $655,600 or a gain 40 per cent by 2017-18,

In the next four years, PEFAC expects to re-locate the cardio room to the main level, increase program capacity and build a variety of programs to accommodate the demand from families and young people

We consider to be a this to be a county success story,” Mathieu said. “We operate a public indoor pool where we teach people to swim. We provide a home for the Dolphins swim team and we’ve been able to offer employment and pay wages to our staff members

The PEFAC board member added that new and prospective residents are seeking out the facility as an important aspect to their life in the Prince Edward County and PEFAC helps keep older residents active.

PEFAC also has an assisted membership program function and has even offered free memberships for the physician recruitment package

We want to reiterate how crucial your support has been, it’s allowed us to leverage grants from other levels of governments and foundations and all o those grants have helped us improve the facility and allowed for increased usage and higher levels financial support,” she added.

Councillor Gord Fox wondered about the County’s contribution becoming an annual line item and Mathieu explained that virtually every grant application PEFAC fills out asks if the local government is showing support to the organization.

When they see you have municipal support, it goes a long way in the process and I’m sure that’s been a vital piece in the support we’ve had at the provincial and federal grant process.

In other Committee of the whole happenings:

Friends of Wellers Bay member Ray Patterson gave the Committee an overview on a 2017 water study performed by Quinte Conservation that illustrates the state of the 11.2 sq km bay located at the northwest end of Prince Edward County whose headwaters flow out of Consecon Lake and through the village of Consecon.

The ‘State of the Bay’ report indicated Weller’s Bay had little thremocline, which are circulation currents that move portions of warm, dense water and conversely cold water throughout the Bay but was otherwise a very healthy body of water in terms of nutrients, total dissolved solids, ph range, turbidity and chlorophyl.

All of our tests were in the really good zone,” Patterson said. “I know there are people on shore that draw water and purify it but they are starting with pretty good water to start with.”

Water was drawn by Quinte Conservation for testing from a number of areas in the Bay and Patterson spoke about the north end where a number of trailer and RV summer vacation parks are located near the Quinte West and Brighton boundary.

According to Patterson, some of the best test results came from that area of the Bay and all the result from the two-day sampling exercise indicate Weller’s Bay is well within the guidelines of being a healthy Canadian body of water.

Patterson noted that Quinte Conversation undertook the first base line in-depth testing of the water in Weller’s Bay but it will be up to the advocacy organization to cover the costs of any additional testing in future years.

Patterson added the organization would examine the costs of such a testing program and determine if a three or five year schedule was feasible.

The committee voted to deem the Lovesong Seniors Housing and Community Hub a “Project of Community Interest” for the purposes of issuing official income tax receipts

Lovesong’s Joy Vervort told the committee that Lovesong initially believed that group looking to transform the former Pinecrest Memorial School in Bloomfield into a 50-unit long term seniors cooperative housing residence that would be considered affordable for those living on fixed incomes would be able to raise funds and issue tax receipts through the registered charitable status of Emanuel Baptist Church.

However, the group was advised by their governance consultant as well as legal representation that the move is not permitted under Canada Revenue Agency income tax regulations related to governing charities.

Vervort explained that housing activities were not included in the provisions laid out initially by the Church when it was founded and, therefore, Emanuel Baptist would be unable to legally accepts on the behalf of Lovesong.

Lovesong has been incorporated as a not for profit organization and is currently developing bylaws as well as preparing an application to the CRA to seek registered charitable status.

“We’ve held off on rolling out our funding strategy until we resolve the issue while searching for a place where we can collect funds and issue tax receipts on an interim basis” Vervort explained.

Joy Vervoort of the LoveSong Seniors Co-Housing Initiative. (Chad Ibbotson/Gazette file photo)

Lovesong didn’t want to lose momentum for the project or lose out on donations as the year-end approaches-a time when many individuals and businesses look for places to donate funds to receive tax receipts

We have a number of significant contributions that can be made to us but we don’t have a vehicle to accept them and are in danger of losing the donations,” she added.

Earlier this summer, the Municipality entered into a partnership agreement with Emmanuel Baptist Church and LoveSong regarding the purchase, resale and redevelopment of the former Pinecrest Memorial School.

In order to allow the County’s finance department to enter into an agreement with LoveSong to accept funds on their behalf and issue receipts for tax purposes, the project must be deemed a ‘Project of Community Interest.’

According to the approved motion, received funds would be used for expenditures related to LoveSong’s acquisition of the school and capital costs of the project and any funds raised and processed over and above the fundraising target would be used to offset future operating costs.