A new inter-municipal agreement that will govern the Antigonish Arena is in the works.
“We have been looking at a new, sort of, management structure and the make-up of the commission and how that’s going to go forward,” Municipality of the County of Antigonish Warden Owen McCarron told reporters, Jan. 16, after council’s monthly meeting.
“We have looked at various facilities across the province – how they are and what the mandate is.”
The municipality and the Town of Antigonish are co-owners of the James Street facility.
Town special projects co-ordinator Steve Scannell outlined the agreement for town and county members during their joint council, Dec. 20, at People’s Place Library.
“We talked it over and now we are going to get a legal review of the new changes and then move forward,” McCarron said.
As part of that late-2017 discussion, and previous ones surrounding the governance model, both councils stressed the importance of enhanced community representation on – and access to – the arena commission.
“Maybe having an opportunity or platform for various user groups to be there and have very open meetings, so people can know when the meetings are, and things like that,” McCarron said.
“Not big changes, but we just want to tweak things a bit.”
The governance model became a focus of discussion in the summer of 2016, when the then arena commission issued a letter notifying the Eastern Nova Scotia Exhibition (ENSE) that it would have to change its dates for the annual fall fair, in order to accommodate additional ice rentals.
That decision, along with the subsequent negative feedback and ENSE position that it could not do so, without crippling the fall fair, raised questions about the powers of the arena commission.
With that, the councils decided to have their respective staffs collaborate on a review of the governance model.
“We just thought this was a good opportunity – a little while later – to look at the whole thing and make sure we have a good wide range of people on the commission that reflects the user groups of the facility,” McCarron said.
“And, going forward, we are certainly looking forward to that opportunity.”
At the pre-Christmas joint council meeting, as part of Scannell outlining the proposed inter-municipal agreement, members discussed several topics, including the make-up of the commission’s board of directors.
Some councillors wanted the mayor and warden to always be members, while others were on board with each council having two representatives, which may or may not include them, but would not be, as in the past, a requirement.
The joint council, through consensus, decided the management board would have eight members – two councillors from each municipality – along with two community members from both the town and county.
With the proposed changes, board members would only be able to serve two consecutive three-year terms.
The town CAO and county clerk-treasurer will be non-voting members.
With the new structure, capital and operating budgets would have to be presented to both councils at the start of the fiscal year.
The commission will be required to seek councils’ approval to spend beyond their budget and report any incurred deficits.
Board meetings will be required to take place in public, unless there is an issue, such as personnel, that requires an in-camera discussion. That would be the same as the power the town and county has under the Municipal Government Act.
Stakeholders and parties, such as the Antigonish Minor Hockey Assocation (AMHA), can be invited for ‘resource purposes.’
After the legal review of the draft inter-municipal agreement, each council will vote on its ratification.
Once the respective councils approve the agreement, the process of dissolving the Antigonish Arena Commission and creating the Antigonish Arena Corporation will take place.