Minden Hills to spend $6.5M on arena upgrade
No pool, walking track
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | October 19, 2017|
Minden Hills council hasn’t completely drowned a swimming pool in a revamped S.G. Nesbitt arena, but it’ll remain under water until there’s a larger population and greater tax base.
On Oct. 26 council is expected to back a $6.5 million option to renovate the existing facility with some design and amenity enhancements. However, there’s no indoor
pool or indoor walking track, as some members of the public wanted.
Director of community services, Mark Coleman, in a report to council said, “a review of those types of facilities, local studies and financial implications suggests
they are not viable at this time here in Minden Hills.”
If the people and tax dollars come in the future, though, the facility “can be redesigned where possible to allow for future phases of build-on,” Coleman said.
Council is looking at new change rooms, moving the community services department into the front of the arena and a gym ($2 million). They’ll also install a new ice plant system ($1.2 million). The rest of the cost is for arena flooring, boards and glass, a newly-resurfaced parking lot, a new roof and walls, an accessible elevator, flashing and insulation, a ventilation upgrade and LED lighting.
Coleman termed it a “major renovation” at the Oct. 12 committee of the whole meeting.
Members of the Highland Storm Minor Hockey Association are pleased. Rich Smith told The Highlander they’re “really” excited about the arena renovation. “It’s a much-needed upgrade to the hockey and figure skating facilities,” he said. “Our arena is a big part of our community that is enjoyed by a wide range of people. It’s an important hub that brings families together. The potential addition of a gym … would promote healthy lifestyles and can help folks exercise indoors during the winter months. Very exciting.”
But not everyone may hold that view. This time last year, about 50 residents attended a task force meeting in the community centre, the majority of them wanting a pool.
Sassy Digs owner Shawn Smandych said at the time he was losing customers because retirees are moving to communities with indoor pools. “You have to look at your demographics. It doesn’t have to be over the top, such as an Olympic-sized pool,” he said. And former councillor Brigitte Gall said the municipality already subsidizes the existing facility, so it could also subsidize an indoor pool.
What $6.5M gets you:
The $6.5M option includes: new, energy efficient ice plant, lights and HVAC/recovery systems, improved accessibility, safety and fire suppression systems, singlesided
seating, centering of the time/scorekeeper and penalty boxes, addition of new dressing rooms for teams, girls, referees, addition of a multi-purpose gymnasium for recreational activities, relocation of the community services department offices to the front of the arena, an enlarged operator/staff room and repurposing of old dressing rooms into enlarged storage rooms and a pro shop.
Coleman said the township could have opted for the status quo, but the 45-year old facility is “on borrowed time, with many systems at or near their end-of-life cycle.”
The other options were a $3 million repair or a new, $10-12 million facility.
“This option provides considerable design and operational enhancements to facility users and staff,” Coleman said in his report.
“This option allows for future additions. This option is more financially sustainable with the resources that are available.” Coleman added the work will extend the life of the facility by 30-plus years.
In addition to giving a thumbs up to the $6.5M retrofit, councillors will have staff prepare a request for proposals (RFP) for engineering and architectural services and will form an arena building task force.
“We’ve taken this as far as we can take it,” said Reeve Brent Devolin, a member of the task force since early 2015 along with councillors Ron Nesbitt and Lisa Schell and community members Peter Oyler, Dwight Thomas and Jim Garbutt.
Devolin said it was time for engineering and architectural expertise. Unlike the new Minden Hills fire hall, which is based on an existing design, “this isn’t a cookie
cutter solution. We will need guidance to go through the next steps of what we can consider,” he said.
The reeve added he is hopeful there will be some provincial infrastructure money coming for recreational facilities, “so it isn’t 100 per cent Minden Hills’ taxpayers’
LISA GERVAIS is the editor for The Highlander.