MAPLETON – An indoor pool and a second ice pad, two features not currently included in a concept plan for proposed upgrades to the PMD arena in Drayton, dominated much of the discussion at a virtual public meeting on the project on June 1.
The township is investigating an application to Infrastructure Canada’s Green and Inclusive Community Buildings Fund to cover much of the cost of the proposed upgrades.
Under the program, the federal and provincial governments will fund 80 per cent of the cost of qualifying projects up to $10 million. Projects over $10 million and up to $25 million would receive 60% funding.
Laurence Cudlip, senior director of architecture for CIMA, a consulting firm assisting with the application, stated at the May 25 township council meeting that the concept as presented is aimed at an application below the $10-million benchmark.
The five-year, $1.5-billion Infrastructure Canada program supports green and accessible retrofits, repairs or upgrades of existing public community buildings and the construction of new publicly-accessible community buildings that serve high-needs, underserved communities across Canada.
“Most of the funding available, $860 million, is available for retrofit projects, and $430 million for new build projects, meaning there are more opportunities to be approved for a retrofit project, compared to a new build,” said Mayor Gregg Davidson in opening remarks at the June 1 meeting.
Major components of the revamped facility in the concept designed by CIMA include a large multi-use court for basketball, volleyball, pickleball and other sports, as well as an elevated walking track and a fitness centre. Outdoors, a new accessible playground is under consideration.
A large addition to the south side of the existing building, encompassing the site of the existing community hall is a major component of the plan and would include two large multi-purpose rooms in the extended space.
The project would include a new entrance area at the back of the facility with a drop-off area as well as another covered drop-off area added at the front of the arena. A photovoltaic charging system for electric vehicles would also be part of the upgrades, fitting in with the energy saving designation.
At the May 25 meeting, CIMA was asked to investigate the possibility of including a swimming pool and/or a second ice pad in the design, concepts which generated considerable discussion on social media and proved popular in an online survey conducted by the township.
However, Cudlip cautioned that either addition would put the project over the $10 benchmark.
Drayton resident Dale Franklin, development officer for the Palmerston and District Hospital Foundation, told council she would like to see full kitchen capabilities retained in the makeover.
Franklin noted the hospital foundation’s annual gala, a major fundraiser for the facility, is held at the PMD arena every third year.
“I’ve thought about this at great length, not only in relation to our gala event but also the Kinsmen Farm Show, the Community Christian School bazaar … the Drayton United Church Turkey supper is served from that facility and the kitchen facilities are used to the extreme utmost of their abilities, so I would not like to see the footprint of the kitchen, decreased,” she stated.
Franklin suggested if there are plans to rework the kitchen design, “let’s do it really well and consult some caterers that use the facility.”
As a Mapleton resident, Franklin stated she feels “we do not need a pool.
“I’ve heard from so many municipalities that have pools that not only do they not make a profit, they’re actually revenue suckers,” she noted.
Former Mapleton resident Liz Samis, who still owns property in the township, urged council to do its “due diligence” on the costing of a pool.
“I know, in theory, everybody would like to have a pool. We’re in Woolwich (Township) … there’s an excellent staff and an excellent facility here. But from a taxpayer standpoint, with a population more than double that of Mapleton, there’s significant ongoing deficit issues with the pool,” she pointed out.
“You can build the pool, it’s the ongoing upkeep and maintenance and staffing costs that are a real concern.”
Samis added, “Also, in terms of the facilities, the exercise rooms or whatever, I would also ask that you look into that and to see how much the Township of Woolwich makes on that particular endeavour.
“I think it is much better operated outside under a private enterprise versus public.”
Samis asked if the consultants had done an analysis of potential energy savings.
“We have looked at the financials and we have a very good idea of what will cost and then (adding) a second ice pad,” said CAO Manny Baron.
“Part of the grant is that we have to do a current energy audit and in order for us to even go to the next step we have to identify 25% in energy savings, or else we don’t even get past go, so that that is absolutely part of the big part of the project.
“So that’s all the things we have to do once council decides what direction to take.”
Cudlip said “without having done a deep dive on the existing systems, I can tell you that part of the program to renovate and retrofit the building would be a full review and likely replacement of probably just about every single major energy driver in the building right now.
“That includes not just HVAC, that goes to things such as low water use plumbing facilities, LED lighting, building automation systems that control all of all of the heating and cooling systems, motion control devices for the lighting so that it doesn’t stay on it’s only on demand, things like that.”
Drayton resident Louise Ellis asked if the township had looked into building an outdoor pool, rather than including a pool in the arena project.
Baron said the township hadn’t studied the idea of an outdoor pool. However, he estimated the capital cost would be around $1.5 million to $2 million, as opposed to about $5 million for an indoor facility.
“Being an outdoor pool we wouldn’t be enjoying the water for the winter months, so obviously the expenses, the operational expenses, would be considerably less,” he said.
“But a pool, put it anywhere you’d like, is about $1,000 a day in operating costs.”
Local resident Joe Heenan said he discussed the idea of a second ice pad with Drayton Minor Hockey officials.
“I got some feedback about possibly increasing fees, if that meant bringing a second pad,” Heenan stated.
He pointed out that the minor hockey association in neighbouring Minto has registration of about 215 participants and utilizes two ice pads, in Palmerston and Harriston.
By comparison, Drayton Minor Hockey has about 175 participants.
“So a little bit less. But then I also checked with Reach Forth Hockey, which is also fairly big in Drayton here, they had 130 kids as well. So that puts our number over 300 which would be more than what Minto runs,” said Heenan.
He noted Minto Minor Hockey is able to provide more ice time per team, generally three ice times per week.
“We’re lucky if you get two ice times a week. Some of those are shared with other teams, some of them are overlapped,” he stated.
” Sometimes you get a 40-minute practice with no flood beforehand. So I would say certainly there, there is a need for more ice in town.”
Heenan continued, “So I guess my question is, in terms of supply and demand. What’s on demand at this point? Have we created that demand for the extra gym? Do we use other facilities in town? Are they busting at the seams?”
Heenan noted Community Christian School officials have indicated the school’s gymnasium is rented out only one night a week.
“Aside from that, there are rental times that are wide open,” he noted.
Davidson said, “I appreciate your feedback and information on the hockey numbers. It’s very important to have that information.
“Of course we also know that arenas are somewhat costly to run. Second pad, a little bit less than the first one because you already have some of the infrastructure in place, but it’s certainly something that council will be discussing when it comes to the overall cost of whatever facility we go with.
“It has to makes sense for our tax base as well in the future.”
Resident Jen Richardson said, “Given what seems to be very limited time to make very big decisions, I think that people are quite concerned with the cost of operating this new facility.
“What is it going to cost us as taxpayers, not only to build it, but also to run it and what are the income streams that would come from that to help justify the spend?”
Baron explained, “In our 10-year capital plan for the PMD arena, we have about $2.75 million already allocated and spoken for toward projects that will happen, so such things as the new skate floor refrigeration system, even a new entrance is scheduled in 2027.
“So the goal of this grant was to take that as our 20 per cent, which we’re already going to spend, and essentially get $8 million (in grant funding).”
Since revenue would continue to come from programs offered and facility rentals, Baron said, if the facility were upgraded as proposed, “there wouldn’t be any impact essentially to the ratepayers.”
Davidson noted that if the second ice pad and pool don’t become part of the proposed renovation, they could be planned for in the future.
“If we don’t go with the second ice pad, if we don’t go with the pool. We now know that the community wants those things, so we can actually … get shovel ready ideas so that if more funding comes up in the future, we would have that plan ready to go,” he explained.
Franklin pointed out that most Mapleton residents live fairly close to swimming pools operated by other municipalities.
“We’re really, really fortunate in our area that we can drive 20 minutes to some really stellar facilities,” she said.
“Yes, they’re out of our municipality. Yes, sometimes we’re charged a little bit more for using them. But I think in the long run we’re actually saving a lot of money for our families here in Mapleton by not having that type of facility.”
Baron laid out the potential financial impact of adding a pool and a second ice pad to the proposal.
“The second ice pad is about $10 million, if you want to do it properly, and the indoor pool, like we mentioned, is about $5 million,” said Baron.
“If we borrowed, because we don’t have the money, we haven’t planned for it. If we debentured $10 million for an ice pad the yearly debt payments would be $630,000. The tax impact to that yearly debt payment is 13.4%, per year for taxes. The pool – same thing – 30-year debenture at 3.07%. The yearly debt payment is $320,000 or 6.81%.:
Baron continued, “So if we did both the impact would be just over 20%. And that does not include the operating costs … You can imagine for the arena. That’s an extra $100,000. That’s very conservative. And the pool, conservatively would be another $300,000 per year in operating.
“So given the fact that 1% (tax rate increase) is $47,000. We’re looking at a combined impact of just over 6% on top of capital.”
Councillor Paul Douglas pointed out that under the grant guidelines, an addition of more than 30% of existing floor space would be classified as a new build and push the town’s application from the 80% to 60% funding level.
“When people are talking about twin ice pads, it does have a big impact on that finance number,” said Douglas.
Councillor Dennis Craven said while he doesn’t believe a pool or second ice pad are currently affordable, he feels they may be needed in the future to accommodate growth and the township should start planning for them.
“The only thing that I’m a little concerned about is we’re going to use tax money from people in the west end of the municipality and the east end. Are people from Alma and Moorefield going to attend the arena?” Craven asked.
“Are they going to participate in any of these activities going on there or are we just going to take their money? I’m concerned about the number of people that aren’t going to be able to use this, that aren’t using the arena now.”
Councillor Marlene Ottens said, “I really feel like I don’t want to get into a Drayton/Moorefield/Alma conflict or type of discussion here because people from all over Mapleton have always gone to hockey and soccer and baseball in all the towns.
“Rural people are used to driving no matter what they do. So I prefer to think of this more as a Mapleton sports complex and not a Drayton facility and I think we need to encourage that thought going forward.”
“I would agree with Marlene,” said Craven.
However, he added, ‘We need to be concerned certainly if Alma and Moorefield people are going to use the facility more than they are now …
“We have to do what we can to encourage them to use it: let them know what’s there for them, when they can use it and how important for us it is to have them there.”
Davidson said council would probably be making a decision on the grant application at the next meeting on June 15, after viewing updated concept drawings from CIMA.