LANCASTER – It looks like the Williamstown Fair will have to look elsewhere for money or give up on a plan to buy land for expanding its site.
South Glengarry council voted last week to deny a $100,000 loan to the Williamstown Fair board of directors to grow the footprint of Canada’s oldest non-interrupted fair.
The board wanted to buy 4.8 acres from a private landowner to grow the current site of 13 acres.
The loan would have been for 10 years, repayable with interest.
While the fair board is financially sound, getting a loan from a bank would have restricted its ability to use money in its accounts to cover any operational shortages. A financial institution would have secured the board’s assets as collateral, according to the board.
Councillors voted unanimously, feeling that loaning the money would set a bad precedent and would leave the township in a difficult position when it came to rezoning land it had covered financially.
“It’s one of the last residential lots in Williamstown so it would be nice to have a young family move there. We’re not a bank, as much as I love the Williamstown Fair, I wasn’t satisfied with the answer (on future land use),” Coun. Trevor Bougie said.
During a presentation to council, the board didn’t spell out exactly what the future use would be for the land, but hinted at parking.
“I have a lot of respect for the board (but) the municipality is not in the loan business. My concern is with setting a precedent…more people would be lining up at the door,” Coun. Lyle Warden added.
“I believe it would open a can of worms to other groups that are in the community,” Deputy Mayor Frank Prevost said.
Staff estimate the private property, which will likely be sold for development, could generate $5,000 a year in taxes in the future.