By Chad Ingram
The Minden Hills arena project is paused for the time being following an April 3 announcement by the provincial government that furtherrestricts construction activities within Ontario.
While theprovince’s initial announcement of what “essential” businesses would bepermitted to continue operating amid the COVID-19 pandemic included most forms of construction an announcement from Premier Doug Ford lastFriday restricted permitted construction activities to the completion of residential projects currently underway along with constructionprojects tied to essential services – the construction of a hospitalfor example.
It means that for now the nearly $13-million arena project which was on track to be completed early in June is on hold.
“It’s a two-week period” Minden Hills Mayor Brent Devolin told the Times adding he wouldn’t be surprised if that initial two-week period isextended by at least another two weeks.
The original constructionschedule for the project – which includes a new arena with six changerooms office space for community services staff and gymnasium withelevated walking track – was to see it completed for the end of thesummer before the 2020/21 ice season. However projections in recentmonths have been that the facility would be completed in June.
“On a practical level we had kind of two months’ grace” Devolin saidnoting though that in a post-COVID-19 world depending on what kind ofrestrictions might still be in place by the fall activities that wouldnormally happen at a recreation centre may not even be able to takeplace.
Devolin was asked if the pause of what is likely to be a month or more would come with additional financial costs.
“Usually in a capital project time is money” he said but added given theunprecedented nature of the situation he wasn’t sure.
There arestill a few sub-trade jobs to be contracted on the project – mostlyexterior work such as curbs etc. – and Devolin said that given theprovince-wide hold on construction the township may be able to receivesome competitive bids on those works once construction is able toresume.