Meeting Thursday night at the Adanac Ski Hill, residents in Ward 11 voted in favour of allowing the Northern Ontario Film Studios a three-year extension to their lease at Barrydowne Arena.
More than 50 residents attended the Community Action Network meeting, called by Coun. Terry Kett to gauge whether residents supported allowing the film studio to stay another three years or move forward with plans to develop a rec centre.
Kett, who's pursuing an integrated park area that will include the recreational centre and nearby Rotary Park, said having four years to plan for the recreation centre is a good thing in the long run.
“I had to get some direction from the area residents,” he said. “The people said they are OK with one more three-year lease. That's OK, because it gives us a full four years to get our plans going for the recreational facility. I think that makes sense for everybody.”
He envisions a centre run by an independent board of directors able to determine what goes on at the facility. Now that an overwhelming number of residents at Thursday's meeting voted in favour of extending the lease, Kett can start long-term planning.
“I feel much better knowing that I have direction from the residents,” he said.
Because the studio is on parkland, the film studio required a temporary rezoning from the city's planning committee. The temporary rezoning was for three years, and the planning committee must approve the extension.
Prior to the meeting, Kett voiced opposition to the lease extension. He told NorthernLife.ca that while he supports the Northern Ontario Film Studio, he wants it relocated.
“They can't continue to take prime parkland,” Kett said Oct. 22 following a finance committee meeting. “I thought I would be free this year to start planning it for next year. And I can't even start planning it yet because I'm not sure we're going to be able to do it.
“I have nothing but best wishes for the film industry,” he said. “But why would anyone want to put money into a leased facility like that? Especially knowing that they're going to make you leave? ... You're in the wrong place, that's all there is to it.”
While Northern Life was not at the meeting, in the thread of comments under the story at NorthernLife.ca, one commenter wrote that, at the Oct. 24 meeting, Kett said the newspaper had "invented his quotes."
When contacted Friday about the story and the contention Northern Life's story was inaccurate, Kett said he hadn't actually seen the story before the meeting. Once he read the article Friday, he confirmed everything written by reporter Darren MacDonald was “right bang on.”
“There's nothing wrong with the article at all,” he said. “It's accurate.”
He said some residents at the meeting called him out for being completely against the film studio, not just its location at Barrydowne Arena. He said one person referenced MacDonald's online article.
If anything had been written stating his opposition to the film studio, it had to be a misquote, Kett said.
However, the article clearly states Kett's opposition to its location at Barrydowne Arena.