Huntsville council has reversed a decision to cut hours at the Brunel Lift Locks.
According to staff, the locks operate at an annual loss of $19,396.40, with very little traffic on weekdays. The proposed trial run would have seen service levels at the locks, which operate seven days a week from Canada Day to Labour Day, condensed to weekends and holiday Mondays. It narrowly passed with a five to three vote at General Committee this month, with one councillor absent.
The motion to revisit the discussion was tabled by Councillor Cory Clarke, who voted in favour the first time. Clarke said he received a lot of feedback from the community and felt the matter “deserved a second look and some more conversation” before being finalized.
“To those people, I want you to know that I heard your concerns, and I understand that it’s not a service that many people would like to see cut,” said Clarke. “So based on the volume of feedback that I received, I will be voting not to cut service at Brunel Locks.”
Brunel Ward Councillor Monty Clouthier, who voted against, said the move would be at odds with the “40 miles of boating” the town has advertised for so long, as well as comments about not cutting service.
“For the amount of money that we’re going to save, I think there’s other places [we could look] if we really had to find that amount of money,” said Clouthier. “We were all happy here with the budget at the time, saying we brought in a reasonable tax hike that [appealed to] everybody without cutting service. Two weeks later we come back with that motion.”
The other councillors each mentioned receiving their fair share of feedback from the public, with all who initially voted in favour changing their vote.
“It shows the process working,” said Huntsville Mayor Nancy Alcock, echoing comments from Councillor Jason FitzGerald. “We have a discussion at our General Committee, two weeks later the issues that we’ve talked about are to be ratified at Council. And if we’ve really gone off in some direction that clearly is a mistake, we can change the course and do exactly what we’re doing right now.”
Council then voted unanimously to defeat the motion and keep the same service hours.
“I should actually thank our community for following council and advising when needed,” said Alcock. “That’s really helpful, especially when it’s done respectfully, which it was. So thank you.”