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WINCHESTER – The pandemic has had a negative effect on most aspects of life in North Dundas, but from time to time something positive comes out of the situation every community finds themselves in.

North Dundas had chosen to keep their facility rental fees the same in an attempt to help its community return to some kind of post-pandemic normal.

North Dundas has more than 30 municipally run facilities including outdoor recreational areas and parks.

The North Dundas director of recreation and culture, Meaghan Meerburg asked the council at their last meeting on Dec. 14 what they wanted to do about increasing the facility rental fees in the municipality.

Meerburg was trying to lock down the rental rates for 2022 and 2023.

The pandemic has caused facility operators to add the cost of screeners at each facility into the cost of running that facility. The council had to decide if they wanted to increase facility rental fees to cover the extra costs because of the pandemic or to continue as they have been doing; to have the municipality absorb the cost. The final decision was to continue to pay for the screening costs, and leave the rental fees where they are.

Mayor Fraser said, “These are different times. We are fortunate that our facilities are back in operation, and are available to the public with some limitations of course.”

Then the mayor said he wanted to make sure these community spaces were available to everyone especially as the community recovers from the pandemic.

Meerburg said, “Due to restrictions and closures that were put in place both by the province and the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) as a result of COVID-19, our community halls have experienced a substantial decrease in the number of rentals over the period of 2020-2021.”

The province, for now has dialed back some of their restrictions and consequently some community groups are slowly reaching out to the municipality to rent space at its facilities.

“As hall rentals are just starting to increase again, it is recommended that the hall rental rates remain unchanged, in order to encourage our residents and guests to book our wonderful facilities,” she said.

Meerburg explained that keeping the rental rates the same and along with improvements that have been made to the various facilities over the past year will help get the community back using them on a regular basis.