Editor's note: This article originally appeared in the March 5 print edition of The Compass.
Municipal leaders with the Town of Bay Roberts have voted to give funding for a state-of-the-art community centre at the Wilbur Sparkes Recreation Complex.
But, the decision was not without its detractors, and was approved by a vote of 5-2.
Two prominent members of council, Mayor Philip Wood and Deputy Mayor Bill Seymour, opposed the spending.
Coun. Wade Oates made a motion at council's regular meeting on Feb. 26 that the town approve the planned $500,000 project, and to allocate $200,000 immediately in order to begin construction this spring. Oates is also the town's liaison with the recreation committee.
The remaining money is expected to be budgeted during future phases of the project.
That $200,000 includes the $50,000 awarded to the town by beer company Molson-Coors.
"I think it's a needed addition," said Coun. Walter Yetman. "We have a first-class facility in our community. It's used by more than just our citizens. It's used by the region."
Yetman made note of the many different attractions at the complex, including a ball field, walking track, playground, and the tennis and ball hockey courts.
Yetman suggested a community centre is a needed addition.
"We don't have something to call our own," said Yetman. "We're not dependent on someone else to put off our own programs. This goes further than washroom facilities, where a meeting place is needed for these different activities."
Coun. Clarence Mercer also lent his approval to the project.
"We're very close to having a first-class facility there, when our soccer field gets in order. I think we need a first-class facility that will accommodate visitors to our town. I think it is a mark on our town, in the positive, if we have visiting teams coming in here and they can be accommodated in the way they deserve to be accommodated," he said.
Oates and Coun. Melvin Walsh also voted in favour of the centre, more than enough for a majority decision.
But Wood and Seymour voiced their opposition for the community centre.
"We have bigger priorities such as a new pool, curbs, gutters, water and pavement," Seymour said later.
Seymour does not believe people will use the facility once it is completed, and suggested "90 per cent" of residents would not support such an expenditure.
"We could buy all of the land we need for the pool with $500,000," he said.
Recreation director Ian Flynn sees nothing but "huge benefits" coming from the town having its own community centre.
The summer recreation program will operate from the building, he explained. There are also plans for an after-school program. The centre will also have the capacity to host small conventions, and be utilized as a gathering places for players participating in soccer and softball competitions.
"It's been a demand of the citizens of the town to see our facility grow," said Flynn. "It's just an added piece to the puzzle.
"The pool is a priority, and is a priority that will continue to be worked on, but this is an attainable goal in the future."
Flynn said the new building will be "strictly a community-based service," and will not be made available for rentals.
It will be strategically located within minutes of both Amalgamated Academy and Ascension Collegiate.
"The possibilities are endless," said Flynn.
Flynn even mentioned that the centre will be power-ready and could be used as a "hot spot" during a power outage.
The director is of the notion that recreation is not just a "soft serve" anymore.
"It's an essential service," said Flynn.