Sunday, April 21, 2024

Meaford Hoping to Benefit From New Grant Programs

By Stephen Vance, Staff

mfd ops ctrThe Municipality of Meaford is hoping to tap into two federal grant opportunities that have recently been announced: the Canadian Heritage – Canada Cultural Spaces grant, and the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario – Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program.

At their June 8 meeting, council was told that both grant programs have specific criteria for eligible projects, and Meaford’s Director of Community Services, Dan Buttineau, said that the application for the Cultural Services grant would request funding for the completion of the Meaford Hall balcony, while the application for the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program would seek funding for a pedestrian bridge from Legion Park to Beautiful Joe Park which would improve accessibility and would allow bus tours to have access to Beautiful Joe Park.

In his report to council, Buttineau said that a renovation of the balcony at Meaford Hall could help draw higher profile performances to the hall.

The only portion of the entire building that was left largely untouched was the balcony, where the ‘best’ 149 of the original wooden seating was relocated. As the balcony had not been used for many years, the sentiment to leave a piece of history intact seemed reasonable and quaint, albeit concern for safe egress, particularly in an emergency situation, was identified by staff. A decision by staff and management was made to sell no more than 60 of the 149 seats in the balcony to mitigate the municipality’s potential exposure to risk and provide maximum comfort for patrons,” said Buttineau in his report. “The percentage of performances at Meaford Hall requiring additional balcony seating capacity has grown steadily from 16% in 2007 with 49 performance events to 30% in 2014 with more than 100 events, a trend that is anticipated to continue to grow over the next five plus years. With the growing usage of the balcony, complaints from patrons have also increased and, unfortunately, seat sales have been lost by those not wishing to sit in the uncomfortable balcony seats. The additional seating capacity will allow Meaford Hall to offer a total of 350 seats in the Opera House and increase the viability of the venue to host larger shows and concerts.”

Buttineau told council that the balcony project is anticipated to cost $410,000, and would only be undertaken should Meaford find success with their grant application, which would provide up to 50 percent of the project cost, and when combined with a commitment of $145,000 from the Meaford Hall & Culture Foundation, the cost to the municipality would be just $60,000.

With regard to the second grant application, Buttineau told council that the proposed project would improve accessibility to Beautiful Joe Park, which could also potentially increase tourist visits to the park.

Development of Legion Park has been identified within the Municipality’s 10 Year Capital Plan. The proposed development of Legion Park is strongly linked to a pedestrian bridge project to improve accessibility to Beautiful Joe Park, which is located on the south shoreline of the Bighead River, adjacent to Legion Park,” Buttineau said in his report.

The anticipated cost of the park project is $880,000, which would include the construction of public washrooms, development of trails and picnic areas, as well as the pedestrian bridge. Buttineau noted that, as with the Meaford Hall balcony project, the park project will not be undertaken unless the grant application is successful. Should Meaford succeed in securing a grant from the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program, $293,000 would be provided from the grant fund, while the remainder of the $880,000 cost would come from municipal development charges and a capital budget levy.

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