Users of the S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena and Community Centre in Minden won’t be getting a fully-stocked concession stand. Council made the decision at its Jan. 26 meeting.

Director of community services, Craig Belfry, said the township received only one bid on the project and it was over budget.

He said MVW Construction and Engineering quoted $423,544.51, whereas council had set a budget of $360,000,

Belfry was seeking approval to have further discussions with MVW, to reduce some of the components of the snack bar. He said $125,000 worth of equipment was being suggested, for example, two ventless fryers worth $40,000 each. A further $60,000 worth of electrical is needed, he said, because, “sufficient power load sourcing was not installed for this area during the initial construction.” Belfry said there was a possibility that cost could also be lowered.

However, a majority of councillors said “no.”

“I’m not happy,” mayor Bob Carter said. He said it was unfortunate the arena design was done in the way it was. He said had they done it then, they would have incurred more cost, but doing it now in isolation has resulted in insufficient power, and ceilings being too low. He said he did not want to give up and was prepared for Belfry to go back to the bidder.

Deputy mayor Lisa Schell said they had planned to spend $300,000 and, “hated to throw the baby out with the bath water. I don’t want to spend any more money on this but we can’t have an arena without a snack bar either, or some kind of option for food. I hear this all the time.”

Mulligan’s has been supplying some food at the arena. They are usually upstairs Friday afternoons and Saturdays and during Haliburton County Huskies games. The Huskies also manage vending machines.

Coun. Pam Sayne also thinks they need a snack bar but felt it was a lot of money. “It shouldn’t cost $300,000 to serve a hot dog.” She thought they could look at healthy food options, and eliminate fryers to save $80,000.

Ripping the Band-Aid off

However, Coun. Tammy McKelvey said even if they got the figure down to $300,000, an outside operator would run the snack bar and receive the proceeds. She added there was talk of borrowing money for the project.

“I’m prepared to rip the Band-Aid off here. We cannot afford a snack bar in an arena that’s already put us in a very difficult financial position. I don’t want to spend any more staff time.”

Some councillors suggested vending machines run by the township.

Coun. Ivan Ingram was prepared to leave it for a year, saying, “that’s a huge number to look at, considering all the other things we’ve put off the past few years. We’ve got way bigger fish to fry than feeding the snack bar people.”

Coun. Bob Sisson said better heating was more important than a concession stand. McKelvey said the sound system is also inadequate. McKelvey said $60,000 in deferred revenue, already set aside by council, could be used for upstairs improvements.

Coun. Shirley Johannessen commented they could get a fully-equipped food truck for $78,000 and also use it for Canada Day and other events, even rent it out.

“I like the idea of the food truck,” Ingram said. “You can move it to the back in summer for baseball. I don’t support spending that kind of money on the arena for a snack bar.”