Charlie Teljeur: Building for the future?
|By Charlie Teljeur - Contributing Writer | November 23, 2017|
So, Minden Hills is progressing with what we could consider the major rebuild of the S.G. Nesbitt arena, affectionately known as Plan B which clocks in at around $6.5 million. Plan A was cheaper but relatively meaningless considering the state of the building which would be akin to using a donut to stop a waterfall and Plan C which evidently costs too much (fair argument). First off, seeing as this is a democracy, somebody is not going to be happy and somebody is. Those who wanted the pool are out of luck as are those who want (ed) a running track. However, if you wanted a gymnasium you must obviously be a happy camper.
What strikes me most about the plans and the subsequent results is that I don’t think what we’re going to end up with is a realistic long-term solution to what’s needed in Minden Hills. I don’t think it adequately reflects what’s needed in a changing county and a changing world for that matter. Take the demographic statistics quoted in the actual study, specifically the mean age of the area which is 53.5 compared to the provincial average at 40.4. What is this telling us? For one, we have an older than average population in the county and it’s only going to trend older, simply because older adults are retiring to communities like ours and the long-term plans of the arena should reflect that. Every effort should be made or have been made to accommodate some sort of walking track. You only need to go to a mall in the city to see how these are being readily utilized. Seems only natural that something could be done to make this a reality in the new building.
The flipside to that age demographic stat is the implied fact that young families are simply not a major part of this area but ironically by not providing something to attract families in the future (indoor play centre?) you’re certainly not helping the cause in creating more growth. The basic premise here is that in order to have longterm growth in problem areas you’ve got to look towards long-term solutions. Build it and they will (hopefully) come.
For me the most disheartening aspect of the “long-term” plan is the fact it attacks the current dilemma with decidedly current thinking. To cut to the chase, where is pursuit or at least the exploration towards alternative energy sources that could help mitigate the costs of running the facility? Was solar-power even entertained as an option? My guess is probably not and if so, it didn’t take simply because of the assumed costs involved which always seems to be a perfunctory (and dated) answer. Thing is, by initiating something in alternative energy for the facility you’re taking a genuinely long-term view. We all know costs aren’t going to go down long- term but chipping away with anything as an alternative says a lot about where you’re heading. Having an expandable energy creation system that could be augmented at assigned phases in the future leaves the door wide open for technological breakthroughs as they become more commonplace (and cheaper). The cheaper and better the technology in the future, the more this alternative energy goes from stemming the tide to wholeheartedly beating back costs. Adding this kind of real alternative says a lot about the kind of forward thinking you have in your community. It’s symbolic.
Sure, the current plans will meet most of the current needs, and yes, of those in the near future as well but are we truly projecting a smart vision for the next 30 years for both the building and for the community? I guess time will tell.
Charlie Teljeur is a contributing writer for The Highlander.