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City MIA during photo-op


What if the government gave the city of Orillia $825,000 and nobody showed up to receive the cheque?

That is what happened yesterday afternoon when Simcoe North MP Bruce Stanton announced that Orillia had been granted $412,500 from the federal government under the Recreational Infrastructure Canada (RInC) program.

With the province matching that sum, the city

will receive $825,000 in total to renovate washrooms and expand storage facilities in Kitchener Park.

But no one from the city turned up to the 2:30 p. m. news conference at the Orillia YMCA to accept the funding or express thanks.

Severn Township, which received $106,600 in funding was well represented by Mayor Phil Sled, deputy mayor Judith Cox and two councillors.

Orillia Mayor Ron Stevens said Stanton's office had contacted him by phone.

But Stevens said he was under the impression the funding was strictly for the Orillia YMCA.

"My intention was to be there, but I thought it was for the YMCA."

He got caught in a series of afternoon meetings and arrived late, Stevens said.

"When I got there, they were all gone."

The local YMCA was the largest recipient of the infrastructure funding, landing $2- million in combined federal and provincial dollars toward a $3.5- million addition.

The YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka had committed $1.5 million toward the project, said CEO Tom Coon.

With a $2-million grant, they will be able to make the project more extensive, perhaps enlarging the special needs and family change rooms and replacing plumbing and tiles in the wet areas, Coon said.

"It's a $4-million project instead of a $3.5-million project."

"It's fabulous news for the community of Orillia," said Gilda Evely, central manager of the local YMCA.

"It solidifies the plans we had and it sends a strong message about the importance of the YMCA in the community."

The YMCA still needs to raise about $250,000 to meet their target of $2 million in the community fundraising campaign.

The $825,000 federal/provincial grant to the city will help fund a $1.4-million project to build a new washroom facility in Kitchener Park, home of soccer, baseball and tennis facilities.

Stevens seemed surprised the project, one of five applications the city made for funding, was successful.

"We didn't anticipate getting that funding," he said.

Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop, who was also unable to attend the funding announcement, sent his executive assistant Mary Silk to bring a message of support.

"These grants will improve the quality of life and create jobs," Silk said.

Severn Township received $70,000 to upgrade the Lake St. George Community Hall and $36,600 to install play apparatus in Washago Centennial Park.

"These are four fantastic projects for our area," said Sled about the $2.9 million in total funding.

Although Orillia was not represented, they will not forfeit the money, Stanton confirmed.

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