/Residents get arena project preview
There was a large crowd at a Dec. 17 open house on the arena project. /CHAD INGRAM Staff

Residents get arena project preview

By Chad Ingram 

Published Dec. 20, 2018 


Hills residents got a glimpse of what a new arena and renovated
community centre could look like earlier this week, and Minden Hills
approved additional funding for what is being referred to as the
“validation phase” of the project, that phase essentially being a series
of engineering assessments of the current structure. 
a Dec. 13 council meeting, a motion came before councillors to extend
the letter of intent between the township and the “integrated project
delivery team,” which consists of McDonald Brothers Construction Ltd.
and Parkin Architects Limited. That extension was to approve increased
funding for the “validation phase” of the project. In September, the
previous council approved $140,000 for the completion of the validation
phase, with Councillor Pam Sayne voting against the motion in a recorded
vote. Sayne has expressed concern throughout the process that the
project was being awarded to a lone bidder. 
motion before council at the Dec. 13 meeting was to approve up to
another $140,000 for the completion of the validation phase, upping the
spending ceiling for that part of the project to $280,000. A staff
report from community services director Mark Coleman showed that
expenses for the completion of the validation phase were expected to
cost $252,000. 
“Basically, this is the
continuation of the investigation process to find the technical elements
of the building that [the township] currently owns, along with the
liabilities associated with it,” said Mayor Brent Devolin. “It’s a lot
of money, it’s hundreds of thousands of dollars you’re spending to get
to that, but in the absence of it, there’s no other way.” 
total estimate for the project has jumped from the $10-million figure
that was included in McDonald Brothers’ response to the RFP, to nearly
$12 million. McDonald Brothers was the sole company to respond to the
township’s request for proposals for the project, and in July, the
previous council approved, in principle, an expenditure of up to $10
million for the project, but no contract has been signed. 
An initial estimate from the township for a renewal of the facility presented in October of 2016 was $6.5 million. 
Bob Carter wondered why the township would proceed with the work if the
final project cost was more than some members of council were
comfortable with. 
“If the number is now
$11.95 million, which is about 24 per cent more than it was, and this
is just a hypothetical, if that $12 million is not palatable to me,
right now, why would I spend this $112,000, why would I OK this
$112,000?” Carter asked. “Because, it doesn’t really matter, if I get
this report and it’s still the $12 million, and it’s still not
palatable, then why would we do that?” 
think we need to finish it to really see what our options are,” said
Devolin, who also said that it was his understanding that the life
expectancy for the arena, constructed in 1972, was “at or near zero.” 
report is scheduled to come before council in January, and that at that
point, Coleman said, councillors could make decisions about alterations
to the proposed project in order to lower its cost. 
may choose, at that time, to cut certain parts of the project off,
which may trim $2 million, or whatever,” he said. “You may not choose to
do everything that this project has evolved to, or you may choose to do
Devolin asked council if
they’d be more comfortable making the decision after they heard a
presentation from the construction and architectural firms involved
during a Dec. 17 open house, and a special meeting of council was then
scheduled for Dec. 19. 
At the Dec. 19
meeting, Carter wanted it made crystal clear that proceeding with the
rest of the validation phase did not commit council to any further work
on the project. 
Coleman said when a
report regarding the project comes back to council in January, council
can choose to do what it wants with the project, including altering its
scope, or stopping it altogether. 
you don’t agree with the price, or you don’t agree with the design, or
any reason, for that matter,” Coleman said. “[Council] could pause, they
could stop it outright, they could terminate it outright.” 
council could say, well, this is no longer $9.6 million, or the gym
isn’t big enough, or whatever it is, and we could stop everything at
that time?” Carter said. 
“Correct,” said Coleman. 
“Absolutely,” said Devolin. 
Pam Sayne expressed concern that Minden Hills could not afford a
$12-million project, saying she’d done the math on a $12-million loan
with four per cent interest, and that it amounted to monthly payments of
$57,000, for 30 years. Councillor Jennifer Hughey said she would have
appreciated seeing the information and property tax implications that
were presented to members of the public during the Dec. 17 open house
beforehand, as she was approached by residents about it immediately
following the meeting. 
More than 100
residents made their way to the community centre for the Dec. 17 open
house, where Mario Pistone, a vice president with Parkin Architects
Limited, gave them an overview of the proposed project. 
main reason for the large jump in the project’s cost is that it’s been
determined that the current S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena will need to be
demolished, and the cost of the new arena is estimated at $8.2 million.
The cost for the construction of a gym with elevated walking track is
estimated at $2.9 million; renovations to the existing community centre
$400,000; and landscaping, including the creation of a parking lot with
separated pedestrian and vehicular areas, is estimated at $300,000. 
reviewed studies that have been done on the arena in the past, one that
was  completed 17 years after the arena was constructed. Pistone said
that report showed that chloride salts were used in the mortar mix in
the building, “and as a result of the introduction of those salts into
the concrete, it led to a premature degradation of the block, and led to
corrosion in the steel. And those are legacies that are still
A 2014 report by engineering
consulting firm Greer Galloway included an estimate of $2.4 million for
repairs to the arena, but, Pistone said, addressed mostly surface
“Their report was based
primarily on visual inspection,” Pistone said. “They did not have
opportunities to get into inaccessible spaces, to dig into the
foundation, and to look at some of the more hidden conditions
surrounding the structure.” 
“It was just a cost estimate to stretch out a few more years of the existing building,” he said. 
validation phase has included structural engineering assessments that,
Pistone said, have shown the arena’s foundation would be unable to
handle the scope of the reconstruction. 
key to this, is can the foundation support the additional roof load
that’s required by changes in the building code, by changes in the
building systems, where we’re adding insulation, adding building
components on the roof, and can that structure support the additional
loads of the roof and walls, again, changes in the building code called
‘high importance,’ that require walls to be more resistant to wind
forces,” Pistone said. 
practice was not up to what the expectation was,” Pistone continued. “We
have examples of columns that aren’t sitting properly on the piers . . .
piers that are not sitting wholly on the foundation.” 
we dug up and exposed the foundation, we found, again, the mortar had
rotted away, the original foundation is the contaminated block, and
deteriorating,” he said. 
The proposed
new arena would use a pre-engineered, frameless structure, “effectively a
load-bearing wall, in corrugated steel,” Pistone said, explaining these
types of structures have an elevated R-value. R-values measure a
material’s conductive heat flow; they are used to rank the insulating
effectiveness of materials. Higher R-values reduce energy consumption. 
“So, as a result of going with this frameless structure, we’re able to get a higher performing building,” Pistone said. 
plan for the arena includes a 200-foot-long rink (the current rink is
185 feet long), bleachers, and six change rooms, as well as space for
the new ice plant. At one point during the meeting, a resident asked why
six change rooms were necessary. Pistone explained it was to allow for
two incoming teams, two teams on the ice surface, and two departing
teams. The project includes new accessible washrooms for the arena, and
for the current cluster of washrooms and change rooms to be transformed
into administrative space for the community services department. 
project includes a long list of energy efficiency and accessibility
upgrades from the current facility, including connecting the community
centre and arena, which are currently not linked in an accessible way,
with an elevator. 
A gymnasium that can
be used for pickle ball, a sport popular with the community’s senior
population, and other activities is to be outfitted with an elevated
walking track around its circumference. Currently, such activities take
place within the community centre space. One resident, a pickle ball
player, noted that the plan had gone from including four pickle ball
courts to three. 
At one point, the cost
estimate for the project had exceeded the $12-million mark, and some
changes were made in an attempt to drive the expense back down. 
we had a high-school-sized gym,” said Patrick Brousseau of McDonald
Brothers. “So, we wanted to give you, the community, a NCAA-style
basketball area, so you could have multiple sports. But the budget was
$12.5 million.” 
“Unfortunately, the
easy stuff is to cut,” Brousseau continued. “Yes, we did cut back on the
pickle ball, but the arena got a little bigger. Why? Why? Everybody
says why. Why? The 200-foot rink had nothing to do with it. What
happened was, during the validation phase, we found out that the
frameless building system that we were recommending . . . it’s
corrugated metal . . . and partway through the evaluation we found out
we could offer one more metre, or two, to the arena, and it would
decongest the players exiting the change rooms behind the dasher
Brousseau said this change would also improve viewing for spectators watching a game from the second level. 
we modelled it, we realized that we were squeezing it too much, and we
realized that we needed to expand the viewing, the experience as a
spectator . . . a lot of people forget that,” he said. “It’s all about
playing, playing, playing, but how about the parents that are watching
their kids play. How about that?” 
were questions and some criticisms from residents, with some noting the
absence of a pool from what had become a $12-million project. A pool
had been a No. 1 priority of many people who undertook a survey
regarding recreational needs early in the process. 
he has in the past, Devolin reiterated the high cost of the
construction, maintenance and operation of a pool, saying he wasn’t
aware of any communities the size of Minden Hills that had constructed a
pool within the last 20 years. When a critic responded with reference
to Bracebridge, where a number of local families travel to use an indoor
pool, Devolin responded that Bracebridge had 10 times the population,
and probably 10 times the assessment base of Minden. He noted the
Pinestone makes its pool available for public use, and suggested that it
might be difficult in Haliburton County to find a sufficient number of
lifeguards to staff a pool. 
One resident asked what the property tax implications of building the facility would be. 
Hills chief administrative officer and treasurer Lorrie Blanchard had
done some calculations. As Blanchard explained, she did those
calculations based on the assumption that the township would borrow $12
million on a 30-year debenture. She based the property tax increase on a
house assessed at $300,000. With a two-year phase-in, property taxes on
that house would increase by $30 for 2019, and then by another $30 in
2020. The increase would then remain at that level for the length of the
debenture. That figure is separate from whatever other tax increase
council might pass in a given year. 
that’s showing it in its most negative light,” Devolin said, adding
that was assuming the township received no grants to help with the
project, and did not account for any community fundraising that may take
Coleman said there were some
limited grant opportunities. The township currently has a $1 million
accessibility grant request pending, and it’s expected it will hear back
about getting some or all of that funding early in the new year. 
on the project would begin in April of 2019 and, if all goes according
to plan, be complete in August of 2020, in time for the 2020/2021 ice