/Minden arena project begins 
Demolition began last week on the S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena in Minden. The arena was built in 1971 and engineering analysis found that chloride salts used in the mortar have been eroding the foundation for years. /DARREN LUM Staff

Minden arena project begins 

By Chad Ingram 

With the demolition of the S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena commencing May 1, the Minden Hills arena renewal project is underway.
$13-million project is being completed by the joint team of McDonald
Brothers Construction and Parkin Architects Limited, who submitted the
sole bid in response to a request for proposals from the Township of
Minden Hills. The initial figure submitted in response to the RFP was
$10 million. However, that figure jumped to $12 million after
engineering assessments determined that the current arena would have to
be demolished. 
The arena was built in
1971 and engineering analysis determined that chloride salts that were
used in the mortar during the building’s construction have been eroding
the block of its foundation for years, making it unable to bear the
weight that would come along with a rebuild of the current structure.
price tag jumped further when the size of the gymnasium was increased
after a number of Minden Hills residents said following a public meeting
in December that the proposed gymnasium was too small. There has also
been criticism from some residents that, for its price tag, the facility
contains no aquatic component. The project will include a new arena
with a 200-foot rink and six change rooms as well as new office space
for township staff, a new gymnasium, and renovations to the Minden Hills
Community Centre, to which the arena is attached.  
Township of Minden Hills will waive all building permit fees and
landfill tipping fees for the project, something not all members of
council agreed with, at an April 25 council meeting.
a staff report from bylaw officer Colin McKnight indicated, “Building
permit and landfill tipping fees were noted as $0.00 in the validation
report provided to council on Feb. 14, 2019 as staff advised the
contractor that a report to council seeking approval to waive the fees
was forthcoming.” 
The fees total more than $100,000. 
waiving such fees for its projects has been a common practice for the
township, Councillor Bob Carter said he thought the waiver meant
disguising some of the project’s true costs. 
“It is an arena expense,” Carter said during the April 25 council meeting. 
administrative officer and treasurer Lorrie Blanchard said that while
that was true, were the township not to waive the fees, it would
increase the overall expense of the project. 
“It’s all internal, so it’s not cash is flowing one way or the other,” Blanchard said. 
Carter said he’d just like to see the true costs of the arena project all in one place. 
“I’d like to see what the cost is, and not have bits and pieces of it spread throughout the budget,” he said. 
Councillor Pam Sayne agreed with Carter. 
“To be clear and to be transparent, I think it’s a good way to show what the arena’s actually costing,” Sayne said. 
February, Carter, Sayne and Councillor Jennifer Hughey voted against
proceeding with the project, with Carter reiterating since he was
elected in the fall that he had concerns with awarding a project with
such a large price tag to a lone bidder. 
fine with the way it is now, because we’ve done it so many times in the
past,” said Councillor Jean Neville, indicating the township did the
same thing during the construction of the Highway 35 fire hall, for
instance, or with the waiver of landfill tipping fees for flood-damaged
building materials. “Anything to do with the municipality, that’s the
way we’ve always handled it.” 
the vote on the waiver of the fees was divided along the same lines as
proceeding with the project itself, with Carter, Sayne and Hughey
opposed, and Neville, Councillor Ron Nesbitt, Deputy Mayor Lisa Schell
and Mayor Brent Devolin in favour. 
Hills has applied for a loan of up to $12.5 million from Infrastructure
Ontario to cover the bulk of the project’s costs, with a stipulation
that loan advances in excess of $11.9 million come back to the council
table for approval. 
The project is scheduled to be completed by fall of 2020, in time for the 2020/21 ice season.