Town seeks assessment report carried out on Gore Bay arena

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GORE BAY – Council for the town of Gore Bay has decided that it will have an assessment report carried out on the Gore Bay Memorial Arena and has accepted a bid for the assessment to be carried out. And with funding available through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, council is considering whether it will go ahead with renovations  of the current arena, or look at a new arena. 

If a new arena is sought, the town would be asking neighbouring municipalities (which have expressed some interest in partnering with the town on a new facility) if they would partner on a new arena under this federal government funding program.

“If a small town like ours lost its arena, it would be a nail in the coffin of the community here and in any small community,” stated Gore Bay Mayor Dan Osborne at a special Gore Bay council meeting held last week. He pointed out arenas and facilities that residents and families can use is imperative while also bringing things like employment opportunities, schools and medical services. “If something happened to our arena we would have a big problem.”

Mayor Osborne indicated at the start of the meeting, “there is a quick turnaround for the grant applications, they have to be in within about a month.”  

“We had talked about a new building or renovating the current arena, so I had investigated both,” said Town Clerk Annette Clarke, who pointed out the town has not had a full inspection of its arena in probably 20 years. “Regardless of whether we renovate the current arena or decide to go with a new one we need these inspections done (to show what work needs to be carried out.” 

Council was informed two quotes were received for the assessment report on the arena, one from EXP services Inc. for a total of $29,190 and Tulloch Engineering for a cost of $22,500 plus HST. 

Ms. Clarke informed council that it was determined that it would cost approximately $7.5 million, and the town’s share of the costs, if neighbouring municipalities partner on the project and funding is approved, would be approximately $666,750 each. However, she provided updated numbers after the meeting, telling the Recorder the cost of a new arena would be approximately $9 million and the costs if shared would be about $800,000 each, again contingent on the funding application being approved.  

Regardless, “we don’t have that kind of money on hand. If council is serious about looking at a new arena we can borrow (from a lending institution).” She added that the town won’t hear about the application for government funding until probably August of 2020. “And we have a lot to figure out before then. For example, if it’s decided to go with a new arena, where it would be located and whether we would continue to operate the current arena while the new one is being constructed. Or council could decide to stick to our original plan and renovate the current arena. I would also recommend that we still reach out to neighbouring municipalities. Renovating or a new arena both fall under the scope of this funding program.” 

Ms. Clarke also noted that if the town was turned down for funding under the government program in its first application, the proposal would be at least in place for future government recreation program funding. 

“In my opinion we still have to move ahead and get the assessment done on the current arena,” said Mayor Osborne. “The town has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years for renovations done to the arena; we’ve had to spend $1 million over the years.” 

“It is a lot of money, $600,000 plus (of the towns share for a new arena),” said Councillor Leeanne Woestenenk. 

“We are dead in the water in looking at a new arena if the other municipalities don’t want to share in the costs of constructing a new arena,” stated Councillor Kevin Woestenenk. 

“We have to go to them and request their support, and obviously if they don’t support this then we won’t be able to go with a new arena,” said Mayor Osborne, noting there has been interest show in the project by neighbouring municipalities (Gordon/Barrie Island and Burpee-Mills). 

Council agreed the first step in the process is to have the arena assessment carried out and to extend a request to the neighbouring municipalities as to whether they will partner with the town on a new arena. 

“Government recreation funding like this doesn’t come around very often,” said Councillor Paulie Nodecker.

It was also pointed out the government looks favourably on joint funding applications.

“I’m looking at all the estimated costs and personally, I would like to see us look at a new one (arena),” said Councillor Aaron Wright.

Council passed a motion to have the assessment of the arena carried out and accepted the bid for $22,500. The town will also reach out to Gordon/Barrie Island, Burpee-Mills and Billings to see if they are interested in partnering on a funding application for a new arena.