By Chad Ingram
While the new Minden Hills arena is technically “substantially complete,” councillors for the township heard during a Nov. 12 committee-of-the-whole meeting that’s a technical, architectural definition and there will likely be several more weeks of construction work before staff move into the building.
“So, occupancy was achieved on Oct. 22, and substantial completion was signed on Oct. 30,” chief administrative officer Trisha McKibbin told council. “But I do want to make note that work still continues. So, substantial completion still means that is up to three per cent of work to still be completed. So we are not physically in the space, there is still construction work taking place. So painting is still happening, final finishes are taking place.”
At one point in time, it was hoped that the $12.75-million project would be completed in the spring, and in the spring, construction was delayed by a month due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
McKibbin told council there was likely still several weeks of work to be completed.
“And then the next step is for staff to operationalize the space,” she said. “That includes moving staff, moving supplies, allocating space, storage.”
There are still a couple of outstanding items – a snack bar, which including electrical work, plumbing, appliances, painting, millwork, etc, is valued at approximately $40,000, and office furniture – and council has not yet decided whether those items will be funded internally, or through the nearly $12-million debenture from Infrastructure Ontario that is paying for the bulk of the project.
Councillor Bob Carter noted that regulations mean the township has 120 days from Oct. 30, from substantial completion, to determine precisely what will be included in the loan.
“We need to get those numbers as quickly as possible to get this determined and the total, if you will, the total project wrapped up,” Carter said regarding the snack bar and office furniture.
While it had seemed the initial plan was to go with a 30-year debenture, with interest rates low, some members of council seem to be leaning toward a 25-year term for repayment. A staff report from finance director Lorrie Blanchard showed that would equate to annual payments of $630,860, less than the original projection of nearly $650,000 for a 30-year term, when interest rates had been higher.
“Going to 25 years, roughly, that’s about $925,000 in interest that we wouldn’t be paying,” Carter said.
With regard to the snack bar and office furniture and how they will be funded, Devolin said the township’s new community services director Craig Belfry is “furiously at work, and in the very near term, we’re going to see a report back on that.”