Cochrane Town Council to work and explore options for long-term viability of the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat

Cochrane Town Council has agreed to work with the independent Board of Directors of the Canadian Polar Bear Habitat through next year. Yesterday, Council voted to work with the Board to finalize a business plan and explore options for the long-term viability of the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat. Council has established an Ad Hoc Committee to work with the Board to develop an operating agreement which would transfer complete operational control of the Canadian Polar Bear Habitat to the Board of Directors no later than December 2020.  Both Cochrane Council and the Board have held Open Houses with the public in late November to seek input and advice on how to address the Habitat’s Future.

“The residents gave us a clear message,” said Denis Clement, Mayor of Cochrane, Ontario. “They want the Town to give the Habitat’s Board the time to complete its new business plan and put it in place. They also want the Town to balance its books. In the short term, however, they do not want to see this done without fully addressing all options for keeping the Habitat open.

The Town and the Habitat Board will meet in early January to begin a process aimed at transitioning to a structure where the Town would retain ownership of the assets while the Habitat Board would assume responsibility for operating the facility.

Clement said, “The Town will continue to support the capital and operational costs through 2020. After that time, we hope to turn over operational responsibility to the Habitat’s Board of Directors. This will fulfil our need to limit the demand on Cochrane taxpayers to support the Habitat and give the Board time to achieve its vision.”

Habitat Board chair, JP Bradette said, “We want to thank the people of Cochrane for their support. It’s clear that their voices were heard at Council. Once we’ve completed the business planning process, we are optimistic that we can secure the corporate partnerships and government support needed to set the Habitat on a clear path to reduce the financial contribution from the Town.”

The Town and the Board will make further announcements in the New Year as the new operating and ownership structure and responsibilities are agreed to and the business plan is completed.

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