/Work to commence on arena project 

Work to commence on arena project 

Work on the reconstruction of the Minden Hills Community Centre and S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena is commencing.

During a Sept. 27 meeting Minden Hills councillors agreed to send a letter of intent to Ottawa’s MacDonald Brothers Construction formally initiating the project and to proceed with the “validation phase.”

“There are several studies and reports and discovery work that needs to be undertaken as part of the validation phase” community services director Mark Coleman told council. “The validation phase involves the initial design and a firming up of any cost estimates that were done as part of the original RFP.”

A structural inspection topographical survey geotechnical study examining soil composition and other such work will be completed as part of the validation phase.

A request for proposals for the project went out earlier this year and in July council voted to award the RFP to MacDonald Brothers the sole company to respond to the request for a total amount of up to $10 million. That decision and the fact a feasibility study was not completed before the contract was awarded has drawn some criticism from residents.

“I know we often refer to this project as ‘renovations’ and we’ve heard some feedback within the community that some people may be concerned about the amount of money that council has approved for renovations” Coleman said. “We are not just painting the arena or fixing a couple of block walls. This is a major reconstruction of the arena.”

The project involves additions to the building including an expanded ice surface new change rooms relocated administrative office a gymnasium with a walking track.

“And improving every accessibility requirement of the facility life support systems in terms of fire suppression . . . energy efficiency so this is impacting 90 per cent or more of the arena structure” Coleman said.

“We are not fixing the arena as is this is a much bigger project” he added.

Council approved up to $140000 to be spent on the validation phase and a report with those findings is expected back to the township’s new council early in the new year.

In the meantime a draft contract for the actual construction portion of the project is expected to come before councillors at their Oct. 11 meeting.

Councillor Pam Sayne said she was not prepared to move forward saying the project should be left to the new council and should include more public input.

“I am not in favour of us doing this at the last minute” Sayne said as she called for a recorded vote on proceeding with the validation phase. Sayne said she had legal concerns as council is currently in what is known as a “lame duck” period. “Lame duck” periods occur in election years after nominations have closed (this year that was July 27) and prohibit councils from making certain types of major decisions including approving expenditures of more than $50000.

“If I could speak to a couple of your comments Councillor Sayne this project at every step has had full solicitor review” Coleman said. He said the fact that council voted in July to award the RFP means the township is in the legal clear to move ahead with the project.

“There are no lame duck issues we re-confirmed that” Coleman said.

In the recorded vote all members of council with the exception of Sayne voted to proceed.