I want to take a moment to thank reader Mike Long, for his Letter to the Editor that appeared in the Nov. 28 edition of Seaway News. In his letter, Mike brought to our attention an issue that I think has been a bit overlooked, the location of Cornwall City Council.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cornwall City Council has not been holding its meetings in the Council Chambers of City Hall, but instead has been meeting in two of the salons in the Cornwall Civic Complex. They have been there for well over a year now.
When Council chose to move its meetings to the Complex salons it made sense. The pandemic meant that there were no events happening, and therefore no demand to rent out the salons. Also, Council needed a larger room to accommodate the need for social distancing.
Now, over a year later, I think it is time for Council to start thinking about returning to City Hall.
While the future with the pandemic is far from certain, it does feel that slowly we are emerging from the worst of it. Events are happening again, and Cornwall taxpayers might be losing out on revenue by not having these venues available for rent.
Additionally, I believe that Council can meet safely in the Council Chambers at City Hall.
There is enough space in that room for all of the council members to be able to safely socially distance. While it is true that there are many members of city administration who are often present for these meetings, they can call in via digital conferencing platforms such as Zoom if there is not enough space to accommodate them in the Chambers.
Taxpayer money is always an important issue for our readers. I understand that. I think that it is incumbent on Council to ensure that taxpayer money is saved where possible and revenue generated where possible to fund municipal services.
This now feels like a case where money can be made, but that is an opportunity that continues to be missed as long as Council remains at the Complex.
According to the City, they made approximately $18,500 in revenue in 2019 renting out the salon where Council is now located.
Cornwall Mayor Glen Grant told Seaway News that Council would continue to meet at the Complex for the foreseeable future, citing public health concerns. I would say that I think that even if the answer is to keep the status quo, that Council should instruct administration to write a report on whether or not returning to City Hall is feasible.
If it is not feasible to return to City Hall, then I go back to another topic I discussed a few months back, office consolidation and possibly selling City Hall. This is another possibility that Council should ask administration for a report on.
Whether it is bringing in revenue from the Complex, or economizing on space, I feel that if this topic is not looked into at all then taxpayer money is being wasted somewhere.
What do you think readers? Email me a Letter to the Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org