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Chaos ensues at WL arena meeting

Lack of motion seconder jeopardizes proposed facility

By Katherine Grant

When members of the public packed the West Lincoln council chamber on Monday night, they were expecting a good debate on the proposed building of a new multi-purpose recreational facility.

Some were at the Public Works Committee meeting to support replacing Smithville’s aging arena, others to speak against it.

But when Mayor Doug Joyner brought forward his six-part motion to get things moving forward after six years of discussion, he was met with total silence.

Not a single member of the Public Works committee would second his motion and he was left “in shock.”

“Never in my eight-plus years in politics have I seen anything like this,” said Joyner after the meeting. “Usually the council chamber is so empty you can hear crickets. But this was an issue that drew a lot of people.”

The committee had already listened to about 90-minutes worth of presentations from a number of community groups and individuals including the senior citizens’ club which presented a petition requesting council move ahead with the new facility to replace the inaccessible upstairs room at the arena where they presently meet.

When it became apparent he wasn’t going to get a seconder, Joyner said “there was literally chaos in the council chambers.”

“I will admit that most of the disruption was caused by me,” he said adding he wasn’t the only one shouting.

“A developer said he would be taking his $20 million and going to another municipality and I heard someone yelling near the end that another motion would be brought forward regarding recreation.”

Joyner said the multi-purpose facility was “on the lips” of every municipal council candidate during last fall’s election.

“You would think they would take the time to read the background on this.

“This is not an issue you can just choose to be silent on. I don’t know too many politicians that shy away from debate.”

Resident Dave Willis was among those who made a presentation against moving ahead with the new facility, which is expected to cost about $16 million.

Willis said he would prefer to look at other options such as buying St. Martin School and renovating the old arena to make it a single storey.

He was also shocked at the committee’s refusal to second the motion to open discussions.

“I took it as a vote of no confidence in the mayor,” said Willis.

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