By James Matthews, Local Initiative Journalism Reporter
Minden Hills has a choice to make regarding re-opening the Lochlin Community Centre.
That is to either repair the existing structure at an estimated cost of $366,000 or to demolish the building and construct a new one at a cost of $600,000.
“In terms of remediation … I guess it is a tear-down and a rebuild,” Mayor Bob Carter said during council’s regular meeting Nov. 30.
He asked about the type of structure that could be erected for the quoted price.
Candace McGuigan, the township’s parks, recreation, and facilities manager, said it would be a “generic structure” of the same square footage as the current building.
Council will ask that a Lochlin Community Centre Advisory Committee meet to explore the issue.
The centre has been closed to the public since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. And it has remained closed, even though the municipality was given the green light to re-open facilities.
Prior to 2019, the facility had issues with the roof leaking into one of the washroom areas. The repair to the roof had been budgeted but, due to staffing changes and the COVID-19 pandemic, the necessary repairs were not undertaken.
The result was mould growth in one of the washroom areas, which required the removal of wall and ceiling materials in that area.
That washroom is currently unfinished.
The roof was replaced in late 2021.
In 2021, the township got a federal Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) grant for facility upgrades. The scope of this project is to rehabilitate/renovate/replace the entrance accessible ramps, and doorways to two Community Centres, one curling club facility and the Library/Cultural Centre to meet current Ontario Building Code standards and to become compliant with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) 2025 requirements for municipalities.
It was discovered in the spring of 2022 that the Lochlin building’s basement had significantly flooded and there was mould in the kitchen areas.
It was determined that mould growth is impacting air quality. The mould was caused by water infiltration in both the foundation and roof of the building envelope.
Hazardous materials including asbestos and lead paint were observed in the facility. That asbestos and lead in the building materials will impact the remediation process and necessitates the use of precautions to ensure worker safety.
“We are looking at a substantial cost, but we need to understand what we need to do,” McGuigan said. “What the community is looking for.”
Deputy Mayor Lisa Schell suggested that the Lochlin Community Centre Advisory Committee have a fulsome discussion about the building and the options toward its remediation before council decides on the matter.
“It’s not just a building,” Schell said. “Even though it’s not a dedicated heritage building, it has a lot of history within the community and I think you’re going to find that a lot of members on that committee are not going to want just a new building plopped onto the property.”
Coun. Bob Sisson suggested the municipality seek a second opinion on options for the facility. Perhaps there’s somebody who could repair the centre for $100,000, he said.
“It’s something to think about,” Sisson said. “There’s a lot of old things that get repaired. Why are we just going to demolish it. It doesn’t make any sense.”
“This was just the initial starting point,” Carter said.
“I would like to go beyond the people on the committee,” Coun. Pam Sayne said. “I would like to have the community informed in that area about what’s going on and what the options are.”
“I think we owe it to these people to let them know what’s going on,” Sisson said. “I mean, we’ve been dragging this on and keeping it secret from them for months. And they need to know what’s going on.”