Petition launched to support funding to private school 0
COLLINGWOOD - Just call it 'dueling petitions'.
A second online petition on the athletic field at Pretty River Academy - this one in favour of the $500,000 federal and provincial grant given to the school for the facility - has been launched. As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 85 people had signed it.
Colin Wills said he has "sat back and watched a vocal minority" get things passed in the past, and this time he wasn't content to just sit.
"This facility can only do good for the whole community," said Wills, noting he and a number of friends have rented the school's gym during the winter to play indoor soccer. "I knew the process (of getting funding) was going to be started, and I was quite impressed and pleased when the money came through.
"I just couldn't believe when some detractors are basically offended by the fact it's a private school (getting public funding)."
Wills petition can be found at www.gopetition.com/online/30295.html.
"I read the opposing petition, and a lot of the comments just smack of pettiness and jealousy," he said, adding the field - which will eventually be converted to an indoor facility - comes at no cost to local taxpayers and its operational costs will be the responsibility of the school.
"I just can't understand why people wouldn't want that facility," he said.
The online petition against the grant (www.gopetition.co.uk/online/29851.html) now hovers around 420 names. Organizer Lorne Kenney says a number of people, by word of mouth, have gone online and signed.
"I honestly don't recognize about 95 per cent of the names on the list," he said.
He also has a handful of actual written signatures, and the group he has formed intends to ramp up that aspect of the petition once school returns after Labour Day.
On Tuesday, Kenney received a response from the province's minister in charge of infrastructure funding, George Smitherman, that indicated the grant to the private school met the criteria for federal and provincial recreational infrastructure funding.
Smitherman also noted in the letter - which Kenney provided to the Enterprise-Bulletin - that the playing field will be available for community use, and the proposal for funding was supported by the Town of Collingwood.
The minister's response only seems to have infuriated Kenney further.
"The letter really illustrates how we have been betrayed by our local government," he said. "Now they're saying (the proposal) enjoyed the town's support, yet it had no sanction from town council."
The town's support came by way of a letter from Leisure Services Director Peter Dunbar that accompanied Pretty River Academy's application for funding; several municipal councillors have expressed dismay that they were never informed of the letter until Simcoe-Grey MP Helena Guergis announced the funding early in July.
Kenney acknowledged the petitions - on both sides - could be considered as an interpretation of the townspeople's opinion whether the grant was a wise decision and represented good public policy.