Ramsay Ward Residents are about to be charged for use of the Carleton Place Library. For over a generation, Mississippi Mills, Carleton Place and Beckwith have had a cooperative cost-sharing agreement to support recreation and library services. This agreement allows residents of each community to enjoy the services throughout.
Councillor Jan Maydan from Almonte Ward is proposing a motion to immediately withdraw support for the library service effective March 15, 2021. Will the other services be cut next?? As yet there has been NO public consultation or notice of this proposed change to the affected residents.
Public consultation is a democratic right. In the recent past, a monumental decision was made regarding the Don Maynard Park in Almonte. There was extensive discussion about that issue in the previous Council’s term. Several members of our current council were involved in those discussions. Following their election to council they voted to reverse the previous council’s decision which then imposed a debt on Mississippi Mills taxpayers of over $500,000.00.
Incredibly, the issue regarding the library in Carleton Place is being proposed without any consultation. One might ask why Councillor Maydan and the Library board have not made an effort to notify the affected community. The impact of this decision will not be felt in Almonte. South Ramsay residents, however, will lose the services and be asked to either travel to Almonte Library or pay a non-resident fee. How is this respectful?
The cost of sharing Library services is based on property assessment in Ramsay. Mississippi Mills, outside of this area, is not included in this formula. There are 1500 affected residents most of whom are from South Ramsay. These residents focus their lives on the urban center (Carleton Place) which abuts their subdivisions.
South Ramsay residents however pay taxes to Mississippi Mills. On the strength of that, they have contributed to all of the development projects such as the expansion of the Pakenham Library, renovations of the Almonte Town Hall, improvement of the sidewalks in Almonte and others. They will also, of course, like the rest of the population in Mississippi Mills, continue to pay the debt imposed by the Don Maynard Park decision.
Almonte Library is planning a major expansion. All Ramsay residents will be sharing in the cost of that development In addition, the South Ramsay residents will also pay with the loss of their right to “open” use of their local library service in Carleton Place.
The Cost Sharing Agreement between our communities was established in 1987. The Mississippi Mills Public Library Board has suggested that this agreement is not consistent with the Public Libraries Act. Their communication adds however, that while this may be the case for a newly established board, it is not true if the agreement between boards is historical. Our agreement has been in operation for over 34 years. In addition, the Public Libraries Act specifically directs that Library Boards “shall seek to provide, in co-operation with other boards, a comprehensive and efficient public library service that reflects the community’s unique needs” – Sect. 20. The existing Cost Sharing Agreement is clearly allowed and consistent with this statement.
The Councillors for Ramsay Ward are Cynthia Guerard (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Bev Holmes(email@example.com). Both councillors are supporting the cut of services to Ramsay residents with NO public consultation. They have stated that the Library Board makes the decision about money. While that is true regarding the expenditures within the Library budget it is not true for this cost sharing agreement. These councillors are abdicating their responsibility and South Ramsay residents are greatly losing. They, like the rest of the council, are elected to make financial decisions for all the residents including the minority in South Ramsay. They need to be held accountable
If you are a resident of Ramsay Ward and would like to continue to use the Carleton Place Library as you always have, contact your Ramsay councillors and the Municipal Clerk before March 15th! You only have a few days!
Cynthia Guerard (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Cynthia Moyle (email@example.com)
A concerned Ramsay Resident