Mapleton council authorizes new application for arena expansion funding

MAPLETON – Council here has approved plans for a new application to obtain funding for a proposed PMD arena expansion through the Green and Inclusive Community Buildings Fund.

Council learned in July 2022 that a previous grant application intended to fund a major renovation of the arena through the program, run by Infrastructure Canada, was unsuccessful.

In June of 2021 council approved an application based on a $10-million plan developed by consulting firm CIMA that included a multi-court gymnasium with an elevated walking track and new entrance areas.

Under the program, the federal and provincial governments would fund 80 per cent of the cost of qualifying projects up to $10 million.

At the Jan. 11 meeting council directed the consulting firm to “update, enhance and resubmit” Mapleton’s application for the program by the deadline for the program’s 2023 intake.

CIMA representative Lawrence Cudlip told council the key objectives of the renovation were to “improve and increase areas within the PMD arena, to provide new community space to improve what’s there and expand upon it.

“We were looking eventually, in any redesign, to look at high efficiency HVAC systems, passive ventilation, perhaps look at a slightly more efficient use of space, create and enhance all of the … accessibility components to the facility,” he explained.

Cudlip added the project would also create multi-purpose meeting spaces “that could be used for various community groups and expand (the arena’s) outreach beyond the immediate locale of Drayton.”

The consultant also noted integrating solar power would help to “diminish and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and improve on the efficiencies and cost of running the facility which is another goal of the Green Inclusive Community Building Fund.”

In December, Infrastructure Canada announced a Feb. 28 deadline for the next application intake.

“So before that deadline hits we fully intend, with approval, to move forward with the second application,” Cudlip stated.

Mayor Greg Davidson asked what the $9.8-million estimated project cost used in the previous application would translate to in 2023.

“We’d have to do a little bit of homework on that,” replied Cudlip.

“The building industry has gone through some tumultuous times last year and things have settled down. For instance, the cost of lumber has dropped. So we’ve seen some of the cost of key building materials has actually levelled off, some of it has slightly increased.”

He added, “Generally, I would say there’s been an increase between this year and last year, a forecasted increase, of anywhere probably between eight to 10% in dollar values for construction.

“But there’s a lot of uncertainty coming up in in 2023, as everyone probably knows, so we’d like to get you a more educated answer on that … in the next couple of days.”

Councillor Marlene Ottens asked what needed to be done to make the plan ready for resubmission.

“The design wouldn’t change per se, but some of the presentation materials would be enhanced to include things like, quite honestly, some more convincing graphics to demonstrate what the building would actually look like,” said Cudlip.

He noted information from a new Greenhouse Gas Emission study would be included in the application.

“Given the deadline for submission for the application is little more than five, six weeks away, we would look to enhance what we’ve already done, and not create any new work, or any new design work … but sort of embellish the application and revisit the writing that was done in the first instance and look at possible improvements that we can do to enhance the application to illustrate the broad reach and community influence that this addition has,” Cudlip added.

“And to illustrate that we are shovel ready,” said Davidson. “That was what the problem was last time, right?”

“Well, we think it was part of the problem,” replied Cudlip, noting the program’s response to the application did not provide “a ton of explicit information.

“We suspect that there are other communities that may have had projects more in the can, as they say.

“We certainly would make it clear, as we did in this application, that we would be continuing the design work and aim at a tender release … sometime in 2023. That would be key to what we’re going to have to do here.”

Councillor Michael Martin asked if there would be any “flexibility” to make changes to the design after approval.

Cudlip said he did not think that would be a problem.

“The funding is approving the project. It isn’t specifically looking at the program of spaces and rooms and looking at the detailed design that you present and saying that’s exactly what you have to deliver,” he said.

However, Cudlip added, “I think major deviations from that, if you were to suddenly double the size of the building or create all new programming that wasn’t part of the original application, that could be a bit of an issue.

“But tweaking the design would not be a problem at all and, quite honestly, would be expected because we’re at a stage of the design process that would encourage some manipulation of the design to make it better.”

Councillor Martin Tamlyn asked what program evaluators are looking for.

“It’s for green infrastructure and accessibility. Is there something within the design that really kind of stands out as far as green and innovation, or that can be a showcase for other kind of multi-use recreational centres and other municipalities?” Tamlyn asked.

“I think they’re certainly they’re looking for innovations … in reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) tonnage,” said Cudlip.

“I noticed some of the projects that did win funding gave statistics that back up what those goals will be.

“So those need to be clear in the application and now that we have the GHG study in hand that will help us to target a specific number in tonnage of GHG reduction.”

Council accepted the report for information and directed the consulting firm to proceed with enhancing and submitting the application by the deadline.