TCRA ownership contested; mediation date set

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Allyson Beauregard

THORNE – The Municipality of Thorne and the Thorne Community Recreation Association (TCRA) will be participating in a mediation process on October 17 to attempt to come to an agreement regarding the TCRA Hall and property’s ownership.

Allyson Beauregard

THORNE – The Municipality of Thorne and the Thorne Community Recreation Association (TCRA) will be participating in a mediation process on October 17 to attempt to come to an agreement regarding the TCRA Hall and property’s ownership.
The TCRA has owned the TCRA Hall and property since 1989 when it was purchased from the municipality for $1. According to TCRA president Gilles Ouimet, the municipality sold the property to save taxpayers money and the selling price was set by a member of council at the time – a price the current Council has contested. “You just can’t give municipal property away for $1… It’s written in the municipal code,” said Mayor Terry Murdock.
Ouimet said the TCRA used to receive a $10,000 yearly grant from the municipality given that their municipal offices are located in one part of the building, but since 2014 when only half of the amount was given, nothing more has been received.
Murdock said the municipality cannot receive available grants to improve their fire hall or build a garage since the TCRA grounds, where the fire hall is located, is not under their ownership. “You can’t get grants and build on something you don’t own,” explained Murdock, stressing that the current fire hall is in dire need of repair and municipal equipment is “stored in snow banks” throughout the winter. Ouimet claims former councils were able to receive grants without the property being in their name.
“There is $492,000 sitting there waiting (in grants) to build the garage and renovate and add on to the fire hall, but [the process] is being obstructed…what’s the ownership to them?” continued Murdock, who said the alternative is to purchase
a property and build elsewhere, which would be costly.
  Ouimet said the TCRA wants to maintain ownership of the property to save taxpayers money; the TCRA is run completely by volunteers who raise the funds through various events and fundraisers to pay for the property’s operating expenses (about $28,000 annually).
Both Murdock and Ouimet agree that council is divided on the issue. If
the parties cannot come to an agreement during mediation, the issue will go before the courts.