Minden candidates differ on future of arena upgrade
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | October 4, 2018|
Mayoral candidates Jarrett Campbell and Wayne Hancock set themselves apart from incumbent Brent Devolin when they told an all-candidates meeting last week they’d halt the planned $10 million S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena and Community Centre upgrade, pending more community input, studies, and more than one bidder.
Resident Patrick Walshe said major projects require a feasibility and a usage and attitudes study, but “neither has been done on this building.”
He asked Devolin why council hasn’t done a feasibility study, and Campbell and Hancock, if they’d “commit to stop the development of this nonsense … until we have a thorough review of a feasibility study and useage and attitudes study, so we know what we’re doing, why we’re doing it and how much it’s going to cost?”
Devolin said council inherited a report from 2014 saying the building was at risk, not only structurally but from potential plant failure, such as what caused a fatal ammonia leak in a BC arena. He said council had been working on it for two-anda-half years, analyzing and getting public input. “We’ve heard from many they want a renewed facility that will last for the next 40 years like this one has lasted for the last 40 years.”
Walshe commented that Devolin had not answered his question about a feasibility study. Campbell replied, “100 per cent. Let’s pump the brakes. This is out of control. There’s no reason one person or one company should be getting a $10 million job without checking at least three, four other people. Let’s find out why we’re paying $10 million.”
Hancock said he’d stop the process immediately. “This single tender approval is wrong. We need to go back to the marketplace. We need to have the feasibility study, we need to understand the operating costs. There’s a lot to this. It’s a major project. This needs to stop now.”
The two councillor-at-large candidates, incumbent Ron Nesbitt and rival John Teljeur also waded into the question. Nesbitt said, “we did a lot of research. I’m talking hours and hours. If you think for one minute we jumped into the water. It didn’t happen. We did a lot of research to make sure we’re making the right decision.”
Teljeur retorted, “the fact of the matter is, if there was such an urgency to build this thing, two things don’t make sense. Why four years? If it was such a struggle [council] could have gone with a $2.4 million proposal and built it quicker. They took four years to come to this and this is a $10 million purchase we can’t afford.”
The public also asked pointed questions about the landfills. One man asked what candidates would do “to finally resolve this ridiculous, revolving circus at the dump, in terms of getting the problems resolved. Citations by two different ministries, lack of inspections [so the township] doesn’t even know the huts of landfill attendants are falling apart, the uncertainly about who’s managing, who’s employed, a whole range of things.”
Earlier on, after a question was asked about water rates, incumbent Councillor Pam Sayne said, “This is the second thing I’ve learned about that I didn’t know before. What this is making me think is we don’t need to do this every four years. We should do it more often, just to get these general issues more aired and addressed.” Her comment drew applause from the more than 300 people who packed the community centre.
Councillors also fielded questions about transportation, clean and clear bylaws, the ward system and amalgamation, transparency, respect and trust, tourism, the Minden Whitewater Preserve, housing and mandatory septic re-inspections. For a full recording of the meeting, go to canoefm.com and click on the election debates tab.
LISA GERVAIS is the editor for The Highlander.