By Chad Ingram
Published Sept. 22 2016
It would cost about $3 million to bring the S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena as it is up to grade. It would cost about $6.6 million for significant renovations that would include new change rooms and between $10 and $12 million to replace it with a new facility.
Those were the figures from Minden Hills community services director Mark Coleman during a public input session on renewal options for the arena. The modestly attended meeting held at the Minden Hills Community Centre on Sept. 19 was intended for members of sports and recreation groups.
A second public meeting is scheduled for Oct. 3.
Option A bringing the current arena up to snuff would cost approximately $3 million Coleman told the room.
The arena was constructed in the early 1970s.
Option B major renovations to the building would include the addition of energy-efficient infrastructure as well as new change rooms and office space at the front of the arena and cost about $6.6 million.
Currently community services staff work out of a space at the back of the arena.
“It’s not that functional for that many staff to work in” Coleman said.
Option C a new recreation complex in Minden would likely cost between $10 and $12 million.
“That’s a whole new facility” Coleman said.
The community services director said renovations on the arena should last the next 25 to 30 years while a new facility should be good for the next half-century.
“If the money was available it would be the best option” Coleman said. “We have the space we have the real estate. We’re not restricted to the footprint of our building.”
However it’s unclear what kind of grants will be available from the provincial and federal governments meaning it’s uncertain how much of total project costs would fall to the municipality itself.
Any scenario will likely require some borrowing on the part of the township.
“We don’t have the money sitting in the bank” Coleman said. “Council would have to consider what they can afford.”
He pointed to continuing low interest rates.
“There’s not a much better time to go into debt” Coleman said.
Municipalities that carry debt actually have a better chance of getting grant approvals from the province.
The township has issued a survey which is available online asking among other questions which of three options residents would prefer.
Of the 184 responses that have been received so far 26 per cent said they prefer option A 35 per cent option B and 39 per cent Option C.
“You’ve got people pulling in both directions and in the end you find the middle ground somewhere” Coleman said.
Sixty-eight per cent of respondents strongly supported municipal tax dollars funding most of the project and 80 per cent said they’d been willing to contribute to fundraising efforts.
“There were some people who said they’d be willing to contribute $1000 individually” Coleman said. “Some of those people are the pool people.”
There is a group of Haliburton County residents who are passionate about constructing an indoor pool in the community.
The survey can be found online at https://mindenhills.ca/assets/Minden-Hills-Survey-Arena-Task-Force.pdf and must be completed and returned to the township by Oct. 11. Copies can also be picked up at the township office on Milne Street or at the community services department at the arena.
Representatives of the Highland Storm minor hockey association who were at Monday’s meeting said they’d like to see larger change rooms as well as a change room specifically for female players. Having access to the boxes directly from the change rooms was another suggestion.
The general public meeting on the future of the arena is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday Oct. 3 at the community centre.