Woodstock Council News: Mayor deliver sad news as council considers MOUs with local organizations

by | Jan 19, 2024

Council also discusses snowmobile racing support, pending labour discussions

An emotional Woodstock Mayor, Trina Jones, opened the last council meeting of 2023 and the first of 2024 with sad news surrounding the deaths of several respected community leaders. 

During the Dec. 12 meeting, Jones’ opening remarks included thoughts for the families of Dale Allen and long-time councillor Peter Kennedy. 

The situation didn’t improve for the mayor’s opening remarks on Jan. 9, at the first meeting in the new year, as it included condolences for the families and friends of Ann Marie Voutour and Richard Markey, both long-time Woodstock employees. 

Jones announced the passing of Allen and Kennedy on Dec. 11, noting their devoted service to their community. 

Kennedy spent 13 years on Woodstock council, serving as finance committee chair for many of those years. 

Allen served as a community leader in several capacities. He may be best remembered as a coach and official in baseball and other sports, for which he was inducted into the Woodstock Sports Wall of Fame at the AYR Motor Centre. 

On Jan. 9, the mayor recalled Vautour and Markey’s years of service as town employees. 

Over her 24 years as a Woodstock employee, the mayor said, Vautour established lasting relationships with town staff. 

Jones said Markey spent 25 years as an appreciated town employee before retirement. 

Council approves MOU with driving club and OHW

Councillor members approved CAO Allan Walker to sign an MOU with the Woodstock Driving Club and the Old Home Week committee surrounding the care and maintenance of Connell Park Raceway, the grandstand and the barn. 

“We’ve been having conversations around working together,” Mayor Jones told council. 

She explained that those discussions included ongoing maintenance of the grandstand, noting that the driving club is responsible for the barn and race track maintenance. 

Jones described the agreement as similar to the existing MOU, adding it contains minimal cash commitment from the town. 

She said the MOU gives the partners a year to determine a long-term strategy for the facility. 

The racetrack enjoyed increased use in 2023 as it hosted 10 New Brunswick harness racing events, in addition to Old Home Week activities, Ribfest and other events. 

The track will also host the Maritime Snowmobile Championship Races this February. 

Town set to sign MOU with historical society

During a discussion about renewing an MOU with the Carleton County Historical Society, the council committed its funding and other support to the society. 

“I think it’s critical we support this,” said Coun. Christa McCartney. “It’s important to protect our history.” 

The society’s primary function surrounds the operation and maintenance of Woodstock’s historic Connell House, which McCartney noted hosts numerous tourist, heritage and other events. 

Jones explained that the council provided $15,500 per year for the past several years, recommending an increase to $20,000 in the new MOU. 

Jones explained that the MOU would cover five years but would allow the town to cancel it. 

She said locking a future council to the agreement would be unfair. 

CAO Allan Walker described Connell House as a critical asset for the town, suggesting the historical building in downtown Woodstock could serve as a tourist bureau. 

The mayor agreed but noted that it would rely on the historical society securing summer staffing to operate it as a tourist centre. 

Snowmobile races and Family Day set for February

The Maritime Snowmobile Championship Racing and an enhanced Family Day celebration will provide plenty of community activities for a long weekend in February. 

Council agreed to provide the local snowmobile club, the Woodstock Trailmakers Inc., access to the AYR Motor Centre fieldhouse to host a dance on Feb. 17, during the races from Feb. 16 to 18 at the Connell Park Raceway. 

The council agreed the town and the club would divide bar profits from the event. 

The racing event leads directly into Family Day activities on Monday, Feb. 19. 

Council also agreed to allow Planet Youth, an organization devoted to substance abuse prevention, to host a Family Day carnival-themed event at the AYR Motor Centre. 

Jones said the town plans to host several events during Family Day. She said the town would soon provide full details about the “busy and fun” weekend. 

Council preparing for labour negotiations 

With labour negotiations with CUPE 719 to begin later this year, Mayor Jones sought council members to join her on a special committee to oversee discussions. 

She advised council members to expect the special committee to be “fairly active.” 

“We want neutral people to ensure we’re negotiating in the best interest of the workers and the town,” she said. 

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