Saturday, May 21, 2022

Arena & Community Centre Overhaul Won’t Come Cheap

Built in 1977, the Meaford & St. Vincent Community Centre on Collingwood Street is long overdue for a major overhaul, particularly with the full implementation of provincial accessibility legislation in 2025 fast approaching. At Monday’s council meeting, staff provided council with an overview of what would be a $12 million renovation should it gain the support of council in the future.

Over the decades the facility has been an important one for those who enjoy hockey, ice skating, as well as for those who use the community centre for events and meetings.

Last year the municipality hired an architectural consultant to provide three conceptual designs for the community centre to address accessibility compliance issues.

The design was to provide innovative ideas and provide the largest footprint for expansion that could be reasonably constructed while having minimal impact on the parking area. The consultant addressed the major stakeholders of the facility to consider challenges for each of their individual programs. The final report was to provide three conceptual design options that included “D” level costing for construction,” staff advised in their report to council.

A class “D” estimate is prepared when a project is at the ‘Conceptual Design’ stage. Conceptual design is defined as the beginning of a project when preliminary spatial needs have been identified, and a space program is being developed.

Staff told council that in the spring of 2021 Lennox Architects conducted a stakeholder consultation period with the major users of the facility. This consultation period was to give the major stakeholders an opportunity to discuss their challenges and future needs of the arena facility. These groups included Knights of Meaford Jr. “A” Hockey Club, Georgian Shores Minor Hockey, Meaford Figure Skating Club, and the Apple Harvest Craft Show.

The original construction of the facility poses a number of operational challenges to staff as well as users of the facility. These challenges include undersized dressing rooms, narrow corridors, limited storage space, and a number of AODA compliance issues. In addition, some of the major infrastructure components in the facility are nearing the end of their useful life and will need to be replaced in the next 10 years,” staff advised in their report to council.

The architectural consultants provided the municipality with three separate floor plan options for consideration.

Each of the options provides a new floor plan design and a ‘Pro and Cons’ summary for each of the proposed plans. Options 2 and 3 provide additional conceptual drawings on the exterior of the facility that identifies traffic flow, parking, pedestrian walkways, landscaping, elevations, and building connectivity. All of the options have accounted for the facility challenges, legislative requirements, and addressing aging infrastructure,” staff advised.

The three options presented are as follows:

Option 1 – Use Existing Footprint

This option was a preliminary concept that attempted to isolate all the work to the dressing rooms in the current location. Although a cost estimate was provided, the results did not greatly improve the building deficiencies and therefore the concept was not developed further.

Option 2 – Front-facing addition

This option proposes an expansion to the facility, with most of the new construction at the front entrance of the facility. This option relocates the majority of the current dressing rooms into the community centre and constructs a new community space (auditorium) on the second floor of the addition. The highlights of Option 2 are: expanded community space, universal washrooms, elevator access to upper bleachers, wider corridors, additional storage, upgraded viewing area, and fully accessible dressing rooms. This option will also address the water penetration on the west side of the facility.

Option 3 – West side addition

This option includes the majority of the construction on the west side of the facility. This option will address the water penetration on the west side of the facility. The highlights of Option 3 are: the largest dressing room enhancements that are fully accessible, additional community space while maintaining the existing auditorium, maintaining the exiting capacities for bleachers and viewing areas, providing universal washrooms, elevator to access the upper level, a fully compliant ice surface for sledge hockey, additional storage, and wider corridors.

While staff recognizes the need for a major overhaul of the facility, they also reminded council that other municipal facilities including the Blue Dolphin public swimming pool are also in need of significant funding.

At this time, staff believe that it would be inappropriate to recommend that the Municipality spend $12 million to renovate the existing facility, without a comprehensive long term plan for facility renovations and replacements. Over the next 12 to 18 months, staff will bring forward more information on a number of facilities including the Blue Dolphin Pool at the same meeting this report is considered, the Facility Rationalization Study, and administration offices. That information, along with the planned upgrade to the Recreation Master Plan, will allow the Council to make a holistic, long-term decision regarding the future of all municipal facilities, early in the new term,” staff advised.

During the same meeting on Monday, council received a report regarding the 54-year-old Blue Dolphin pool, which is in need of rehabilitation that could cost more than $1.5 million.

Understanding the pool has surpassed its normal life expectancy, staff initiated the review to better understand the current conditions of the pool and financial impacts for future budgets. This project included a full structural report of the pool shell, review of the water filtration system, recommendations for immediate actions, compliance for current regulations, costing for future repairs, and a costing for a full pool replacement,” staff told council.

Members of council expressed appreciation to staff for the extensive report, and though the report was for information purposes only and required no decisions by council, members of council expressed some of their own ideas including the potential for building a new facility that would incorporate a new arena and community centre along with a public swimming pool and new municipal administration offices. Though the price tag would be significant, more than $20 million as suggested by Councillor Harley Greenfield, it could save significant tax dollars in the future by constructing a single structure to house all three facilities.

The report to council required no action or decision by council, and was for information purposes only, and the report will help guide council and staff as solutions to the facility needs for the community centre, public pool, and other municipal facilities in need of significant rehabilitation or replacement.

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