By John Francis
The community centre/arena at Lion’s Head has been identified as being urgently in need of upgrades. In fact, that designation dates back well over ten years. A summary appears in the Agenda for MNBP Council’s most recent meeting.
To see this Agenda, go to the municipal website (www.northbrucepeninsula.ca); look for Municipal Services in the lower right hand corner, click “See More” which will (finally) offer you a link to “Mayor and Council”, which will offer you a link to “Agendas and Minutes” which will offer you, at long last, a link to the civicweb site where all these records live. Select the Sept 23 Council Agenda, then click on “Agenda Package” to see the full information package that was prepared for Council. It will take a few minutes to load — it’s a huge document. The 32-page CAO report about the arena begins on page 48; the engineer’s drawings of the proposals for the arena are on pages 76 and 77. If you have any interest in the community centre upgrade issue, I strongly recommend that you get up to speed by looking at this (excellent) report. (I would suggest that you bookmark the civicweb site to avoid having to navigate your way in every time.)
You will notice that the drawings in question were done more than 7 years ago. The Council at that time did extensive public consultation about the upgrade but in the end, succumbed to sticker shock; they could not bring themselves to commit millions of dollars of taxpayer money to an arena. Instead, they chose to kick it down the road in hopes that a grant program would come along (“Some day my prince will come”) and address the (much less ambitious and much less expensive) Rotary Hall renovation instead. That project also fell by the wayside, a victim of 2016’s sudden and dramatic increase in construction costs.
That across-the-board increase in construction costs was not matched by a comparable increase in municipal tax rates so it pushed the community centre upgrade even further out of reach. Then (cue dramatic music) the email arrived from MPP Bill Walker about a grant program that pays 73% of costs (dramatic music swells). An excerpt from the application criteria for that grant program reads:
“Eligible asset type*:
• recreation facilities (e.g., hockey arenas, multipurpose recreation centres, playing fields)
• cultural facilities (e.g., theatres, libraries, museums, cultural centres, civic squares, performing arts centres)
• community centres/hubs (e.g., multi-purpose spaces that bring together a variety of different services, community centres including recreation facilities)”
(Dramatic music reaches a crescendo, ending in the final chord from “A Day In The Life”.)
Mayor McIver stressed to Council that we cannot be certain that our application will be approved, but the community centre/arena project definitely seems to fit the grant criteria. Keep your fingers crossed.