$200,000 Mindemoya arena renovations raise concerns

CENTRAL MANITOULIN – Recommendations from the Central Manitoulin property committee to proceed with required repairs to the Mindemoya arena to the tune of a maximum of $200,000 and to replace a three-phase electrical wire at the arena with an estimated cost of $5,000 engendered a significant amount of debate during the April 11 meeting of the Central Manitoulin council.

The motion to replace the electrical line was moved by Councillor Derek Stephens and seconded by Councillor Angela Johnston. Acting Clerk Denise Deforge noted that there have been at least three splices to the existing line and that the town staff are not sure that the line can be counted on to hold up. “We are not sure we can count on it,” she said. “We would lose power to our arena if it should fail.”

“This would be a relatively cheap fix,” noted Councillor Stephens as he spoke to the motion. He pointed out that there are a number of events coming up that take place at the arena. “We are ready to start (planning for) the Pearson Cup and other events,” he said.

“I am not comfortable with the information we have received,” said Councillor Steve Shaffer. “I have been talking to people and it is only six or seven years since we had a brand new line put in.” Councillor Shaffer noted that the line had been damaged by a construction company. “Hydro put a splice in at the pole, then another splice was put in,” he said. “That work was all coded (to building code specifications). If the two splices failed, there might quite possibly be another damaged part at the pole. If the splice was at fault, I don’t know.”

“That is why we are going with the $5,000,” said Councillor Stephens. But Councillor Shaffer maintained that council did not have enough information.

Councillor Dale Scott asked if there was any research to see if there was another area in the line that was of concern.

Acting Clerk Deforge explained that the cost of having the line inspected by an electrician could cost upwards of $1,000 on its own.

Councillor Shaffer noted the cost of the splice would be in the neighbourhood of $1,500.

“We have two options,” suggested Mayor Richard Stephens. “We could withdraw the motion or send it back to committee.”

Acting Clerk Deforge pointed out that if the motion were to fail it could cause a procedural issue. “(The repair/replacement) is something that needs to be done,” she said. “If the motion fails, how will the work be done?”

“If we want more information we can send it back,” suggested Mayor Stephens.

“I am in favour of doing the replacement,” said Councillor Stephens. “Three splices have cost $4,500 already. We are putting Band-Aids on with these splices. I am not in favour of Band-Aids.”

“Nobody said that the splice failed,” suggested Councillor Shaffer.

“George did at the (property) meeting,” replied Councillor Stephens.

Councillor Scott suggested that there was still time to collect more information on the replacement of the line before events were taking place. “There will be time to get information and go back to get the repair done,” he said.

The motion was called and decided in favour of replacing the line by a vote of three to two.

Discussion then moved on to the recommendation from the property committee to proceed with required repairs to the Mindemoya arena “as reported as a temporary fix to a maximum of cost of $200,000.” The motion was moved by Councillor Linda Farquhar (to put it on the floor) and seconded by Councillor Shaffer. 

“I would like to put the motion about what to do at the next council meeting,” suggested Councillor Farquhar. “I would like to see the report from the engineer before we proceed.” The report in question was from Tulloch Engineering.

“I would agree with Linda,” said Councillor Stephens. “I would like to see an engineer’s report. I am definitely opposed to putting money into a white elephant. This is a very expensive Band-Aid.” He suggested that the community would be better served by building a new arena. “I am definitely opposed to this motion. I think you will see this will cost much more than $200,000.”

“I don’t think we have enough information,” said Councillor Shaffer. “My feeling is that there is not enough information. I fully support sending it back to committee.”

“I am also comfortable on sending it back (to committee),” said Councillor Johnston. “I am not comfortable with spending a lot of money on the arena. We need to put thought into what is best.”

“I think we need direction on a timeline,” said Councillor Scott. “How long will it take? How soon can we get a clear idea on what it will cost?”

“Was there not a timeline in the report?” asked Mayor Stephens. “It would take two weeks to get started.”

“When I see $200,000 and I see temporary, I take a zero off for temporary,” said Councillor Tribinevicius. “I am not comfortable without the details.”

Councillor Stephens asked staff what the (engineer’s) report would cost.

Mayor Stephens offered up the amount of $7,000.

“We have to be aware that there is a cost (to commissioning an engineer’s report),” said Councillor Stephens.

“Is the report just focussed on the wall?” asked Councillor Johnston. 

“Roof framing, wall framing, miscellaneous structure,” said Mayor Stephens. “We received a cost estimate for repairs and the next structural inspection date.”

Council moved to refer the recommendation back to the property committee. In the meantime staff was directed to get a cost for the report.