Big Ben, Marina 200 still managed by Leader Sports

(Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – Leader Sports will continue to operate Marina 200 and the Big Ben Ski Hill for another year.

Council voted Monday night against giving notice to the company that it would be exploring other options with either it, another company or having the city run the marina and ski hill.

The final vote was 6-4 with councillors Justin Towndale, Maurice Dupelle, Denis Carr and David Murphy voting to put Leader Sports on notice.

Coun. Dupelle argued the city didn’t have any control over the operations, even though a report shows if the city ran the marina and ski hill it would cost $50,000 more than it does now.

“I don’t think this is a place where we should be subsidizing these businesses,” Dupelle said.

Coun. Elaine MacDonald suggested the city already subsidizes private business every time it pays for services through tender projects. “Every meeting we fund private businesses because we can’t do this ourselves.”

Coun. Claude McIntosh also cited reduced ice rates for businesses as an example of how the city subsidizes private business.

After asking questions about revenue sharing with the city, Coun. Justin Towndale suggested the city should have a better deal.

“It’s like a store where we would say, we will pay the rent for you and you keep all the profits. That’s what this deal is basically,” Towndale said.

“We have an obligation to the taxpayers to enter into good business deals and this isn’t one of them,” he said.

Coun. Bernadette Clement says the marina and ski hill benefit residents in the city and is “financially acceptable”.

Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy also left his mayor’s chair to address the issue.

“Aultsville Theater. We give them $100,000 a year, we don’t run it. It’s a service for the people of Cornwall. The museum, we give them $112,000. They have a manager. Aultsville Theater has a manager. The city right now provides no management to the marina or Big Ben. Who’s going to manage it? If we do this by ourselves, it would cost us more,” the mayor said.

The mayor said the operations went to tender before and the company only lasted a year before “they were gone”.

After the suggestion from some other councillors to have a third-party manager for places like the Benson Center, O’Shaughnessy challenged them to bring a motion to council to explore it.