By Sue Tiffin
The cost to add a snack bar at Minden’s arena has, in the words of community services director Craig Belfry, “ballooned” to $293,000 excluding HST and contingency.
Previously, council had approved additional expenses for the township’s arena project, including construction costs for a snack bar which were not captured under the arena’s original budget. The budget for its design was $13,535, plus HST, the remainder of that to be spent on electrical and mechanical work, millwork, doorways and equipment.
“As staff have moved through the process to design the space with Parkin, certain design items were seen as required for the space,” said Belfry. “These include but are not limited to doors and frames; millwork; appliances; HVAC; electrical systems; security grill; concrete work and general conditions.”
Of the total amount, the electrical component, appliances and fixtures and general conditions will cost just under $200,000.
“The electrical component is high due to the fact that no local companies could be secured to provide pricing as their manpower was limited, and have already committed to ongoing field activities,” said Belfry. Equipment
suppliers have stated that lack of supply has inflated costs, he said.
“Staff could trim back some of the equipment in the proposal, and expect a possible slight decrease in the electrical work, if performed by a local company, but the project would still be substantially over the budgeted amount of $60,000,” he said.
For a snack bar to be operational for the 2022/2023 season, Belfry said an additional $271,518 in funding is required, which includes a 10 per cent contingency of $24,683.
Belfry said staff has looked at alternative options, including minor renovations to the area for use by vending machines; the use of warming carts by the vendor with food preparation in the community centre kitchen or minor renovations to repurpose the space for storage or as a meeting room.
The use of warming carts would have an impact on rentals and revenue, said Belfry, and the current kitchen is not set up for the use of oil-based cooking.
“Why on earth was this not included in the original build?” asked Deputy Mayor Lisa Schell.
She asked about the possibility of a newer style air fryer, which might cost more up front, she said, but would reduce costs in other ways.
Belfry said there isn’t a hood in the kitchen.
“In certain areas, the ceiling’s too low for the building code so we can’t get one in, so we had to look at alternatives of fryer systems,” he said. A deep fryer shown in a design illustration is a hoodless option.
Councillor Ron Nesbitt asked if, as council had discussed in previous meetings, an external food supplier like Subway could come in.
Belfry reminded council that through the tenancy agreement with the Haliburton County Huskies, they were awarded operations of the food booth as a service to the community, with all revenue from the operations of food booth profits going to the team.
“Council had agreed to help support the team coming in, that that was one of the reasons, that they were just getting up and going and this would be another revenue source for them to help generate more in the community for them and for the municipality,” he said.
“Don’t we already own some of these appliances from the old snack bar?” asked Councillor Jean Neville. “Where is that equipment, because why are we buying all new stuff if we already have some of this?”
Belfry said that equipment is gone.
“Everything’s gone from the demolition, that I’ve seen at least,” he said.
“I have been to several games there and there is a really big need for a concession stand,” said Neville.
She asked if the food booth would be open all day, and Belfry said hours of operation would be up to the Huskies, who had said it wouldn’t only be open during Huskies games. He said at arenas he’s managed, he’s only seen food booths open when it’s economically viable, at busiest times.
Councillor Pam Sayne said she was “a little bit speechless” about the update.
“I’m so not pleased with the fact that we’re investing $300,000 into another part of our building that we’re giving away to one entity … We’ve got to have some more give and take here, for the community and what the community needs are in this building, and make the community as much a priority as our team,” she said.
Neville said in the past, the tender for operation of the food booth had been put out several times with no interest, which Sayne said people had told her was a result of restrictive parameters of the tender.
Councillor Bob Carter said looking at the amount amortized over 25 years resulted in a cost of about $12,000 a year.
“I think $12,000 a year invested in the snack bar is something that is well worth having for the population and the people who use this facility,” he said. “I don’t like it, I wish it was less, I wish it was already there, but that’s not the case, we’re retrofitting. The $12,000 a year is a good investment.”
Devolin noted the team had also helped with what he called leasehold agreements in excess of $200,000. Belfry said they’ve installed rail systems in the stands, as well as upgraded the backroom used by players.
As council was discussing how to finance the project, Oscar Poloni, the township’s auditor, said a capital reserve for the arena existed, and was projected to be roughly $470,000 as of Dec. 31, 2021 so the township could potentially fund the snack bar out of reserves.
Belfry said the reserve has been used in the past for vehicles, and using it to cover the cost of the snack bar would drain it, adding, “that’s something we’ll have to look at.”
Carter suggested that finance do an analysis and come back to council with a best recommendation for a financing plan. Council opted to add $300,000 to the capital budget to fund the snack bar.
McDonald Brothers and Parkin Architects Limited were, in a joint bid, the sole bidders on the arena project. The arena project’s initial budget was approximately $12.5 million, with McDonald Brothers later coming to council requesting and receiving an additional $250,000, bringing its total base budget to $12.75 million and a final report showing the costs totalled $13.3 million. The facility includes an NHL-sized ice rink, six change rooms, office space for community services staff, a multipurpose gymnasium, fitness room and elevated walking track.