By Chad Ingram
Minden Hills councillors approved additional expenses for the township’s arena project – additions that have been referred to as “value-added items” throughout the process – during a special meeting on Sept. 17.
Those items are ones that are not included in the project’s $12.75-million budget, and range from furniture to artistic murals to the paving of the balance of the parking lot.
The arena will include a proper snack bar or canteen, councillors decided, the construction costs for which were not captured under the project’s budget. At one point in time there had been some suggestion from staff that the space where the canteen would go could be populated by vending machines, but a number of councillors have maintained that an arena needs a proper snack bar where hot foods can be prepared. It’s unclear at this point whether the township would operate it directly, or put out a request for proposals for its operation.
“I think we have to go ahead with the canteen and I’d like to go ahead with it now, because this has just dragged on too long,” said Councillor Jean Neville. “In view of, hopefully, post-COVID times, there might be somebody very interested in setting it up, and we need the facility there and be able to move forward on it and not keep discussing this over and over again. So whether we run it or somebody runs it, we need a canteen there.”
All members of council were in agreement. The estimated cost for the canteen, including electrical work, plumbing, appliances, painting, millwork, etc, is $40,000.
All together, with updated figures, the list of nearly 20 value-added items, were they to be completed, totalled more than $500,000. Minden Hills has received an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant to pay for $130,000 worth of items. Councillors went through the list, deciding to approve expenses for some, seek more information or more exact figures on others, or scrap others completely.
“I’d just like that we get rid of a bunch of the clutter that’s on this page,” said Councillor Bob Carter, “ . . . and just realize that there’s four or five items left that we need to be talking about.”
A sprinkler system for the existing community centre space, for example, had been on the list, and councillors agreed that should be discussed separately as part of their regular budget deliberations.
One item that was approved, which cost well above the amount that had been budgeted for it, was signage and way-finding signage for the new facility.
Ottawa’s McDonald Brothers Construction, which was the sole bidder on the project, has been responsible for tendering sub-trades throughout the process. As a report from Minden Hills chief administrative officer and clerk Trisha McKibbin read, “McDonald Brothers Construction released a tender for signage and way-finding for the S.G. Nesbitt Arena in July, 2020. Both suppliers who submitted bids for the tender provided the cost to supply the signs and MBC have included budget value to install them. The base budget (part of the project budget) for signs was $2,722 and anything exceeding this amount will need to be paid for by the municipality. As such, the awarding of the tender is coming forward to council for review and approval.”
Council awarded the supply of the signs to Signs.ca for more than $11,100, and with MBC’s installation fee of almost $3,000, the total for signage and way-finding signage comes to more than $14,000.
Signage is required for technical completion of the building.
“We need the signage that we need, everyone concur with that?” asked Mayor Brent Devolin as councillors went through the list.
The signage money was approved, and the funding for it and other items approved during last week’s meeting will come from either reserves or further debenture. A loan from provincial lending organization Infrastructure Ontario is paying for the bulk of the project.
Other items approved by council also to be paid for through reserves or debenture included a projection screen and projector for $9,500; lobby furniture for $15,000; a fitness room access control panel for $7,300; and additional security cameras for $7,100
Council was concerned about apparent markup on some items – including $46,000 for lobby furniture – as well as a canopy for the rear entrance of the buildings, and reports with more detail on those items will come back to the council table.
The 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. 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. Construction began in spring of 2019, was delayed by a month amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and is expected to be complete this month.