Mapleton loses bid for funding to renovate PMD arena

MAPLETON – A grant application intended to fund a major renovation of the PMD arena in Drayton was unsuccessful, council here has learned.

However, a consultant engaged to assist with the application – through Infrastructure Canada’s Green and Inclusive Community Buildings Fund – says it’s possible the funds could be obtained through a future intake of the program.

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 will fund 80 per cent of the cost of qualifying projects up to $10 million.

At the July 12 meeting, CIMA senior director Laurence Cudlip told council the application was unsuccessful.

Cudlip suggested the project was not considered “shovel-ready” by grant evaluators.

“We did a little bit of internal back and forth after getting that little bit of bad news and it would seem that one of probably the biggest detriments to our application was the fact that it wasn’t, quote-unquote, ‘shovel-ready’,” Cudlip told council.

“We’re never sure exactly what deems a project … shovel ready or not.”

However, he noted, “I’ve been on projects where what we’ve submitted for you guys met the standard of due diligence and funding found its way to that particular client.”

Cudlip added, “My message here tonight is hopefully positive. It’s not that you didn’t get the money, it’s we didn’t get it yet. There are other avenues we can go after.”

The consultant said several funding options are available for “green” projects through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

However, he noted these programs generally providing funding of up to about $60,000.

“So they don’t come close to dealing with what you want to do for the arena as a whole,” he explained.

There are also programs available from various levels of government for projects to reduce greenhouse gases.

Yet Cudlip suggested the township’s best bet for the type of funding it is seeking is to apply to the next intake of the Green and Inclusive Community Buildings Fund.

“Because there we know there’s a second intake coming … our plan is to have some more discussions with (Mapleton CAO Manny Baron) and our company about how we can position what we’ve already done and perhaps enhance it enough to make it a more sellable project that would receive the funding to get the project happening,” Cudlip stated.

Cudlip said he feels Mapleton’s application lost out to projects further along in the design and approval stage and more up-front investment may be required to secure funding.

“The case we made in the application, I think, was very sound and robust about it hitting all the right buttons,” he explained.

“But I think it was its lack of advancement that really hurt us. There were other projects in in the first intake that I think were clearly much more advanced in detailed design and almost ready to be tendered. And we’re a little way away from that.”

“You did mention about an investment from the township to further this along? How much are you thinking, realistically?” asked Mayor Gregg Davidson.

Cudlip estimated that design costs equivalent to about 30 per cent of the estimated $8 million construction costs on the project might be required.

He noted there could be some room for negotiation on the CIMA portion of those fees.

“I think there could be some arrangement made,” Cudlip suggested.

“It’s good to hear there could be some arrangement made, because 30% of the cost is quite large for a small municipality like ours,” said Davidson.

“We’re talking … quite large for a hope and a dream.”

Davidson noted township officials have recently spoken to Perth-Wellington MP John Nater about inequities in the federal grant approval process.

“We sat with him and chatted about this situation where small municipalities are being asked to put out a lot of funding in order to receive more funding on a project, which is very difficult for small municipalities to do,” Davidson stated.

“(It’s) much easier for larger cities … this is something that’s got to be taken back by him to the federal government, that this is not a fair process for small communities.”

Council received the report for information.