Monday, July 28, 2014

Junior B Pirates Coming to Pelham

Photo Copyright: Niagara This Week.
During our meeting last Monday, Town Council signed a multi-year lease with the Pelham Pirates Junior B Hockey Club and officially welcomed them to the community.

After receiving the go-ahead from the Ontario Hockey Association, the Pelham Pirates (formally known as the Port Colborne Pirates) will move into the Pelham Arena for the 2014/2015 and 2015/1016 seasons. The Pelham Pirates will be one of 27 Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League teams within the Niagara Region and Southwestern Ontario. Pirate home games will be on Friday nights, with the option of Tuesday night games when necessary.

Town Staff met with various arena user groups and there is unanimous support for the Team’s relocation to Pelham. While it will mean that some ice users will have to shift rental times or rent more out-of-Town ice, all welcomed the Pirates. For instance, Byron Sinclair, president of Pelham Minor Hockey, said during our Council meeting: “We are behind you with whatever you need.”

Because they are part of minor hockey, the Pelham Pirates will pay the minor hockey rates for ice. (We understand that Junior B teams in other jurisdictions either pay minor hockey rates, or get their ice time for free.)

The Pirates will also operate the concession at Pirate games, during other minor hockey games, and public skates; they will rent the concession at our normal rate. This is actually a benefit for the Town; over the last couple of years, the Town operated the concession at a loss because we could not find a business or not-for-profit to operate it.

Like in other cities or towns with Junior B teams, the Town will provide a dressing room for the Pirates. (Last week, Council approved the rental of a temporary trailer for the Pirate change room at a cost not to exceed $22,240 for the remainder of 2014.) Visiting Junior B teams will use two arena dressing rooms.

The lease agreement between the Town and the Pirates also contains important provisions like what happens if there’s a failure to pay, how the Pirates might transition to a community team, and the flexibility required in hope that the Town attracts the grants and financing needed to build a new potential community centre. (You can review the Agreement on the Town’s website by clicking here.)

For more information about the new Pelham Pirates, please check out their website at:

Junior B hockey gives us something else to celebrate about our community. Council and I are excited about this great opportunity for the Town and for Pelham minor hockey players and fans.
25 August 2014 Update -- purchase better than value than lease

At the time of Council's initial approval of renting a change room, Council directed staff to look at the cost / benefit analysis of purchasing the portable unit (instead of renting).

On August 25, Staff reported that cost to purchase the portable itself is $88,089 with the cost of utility installation at $7,500. The total cost is $95,589. At the end of the Town's use of a purchased portable, the Town could sell it and recoup some significant costs. (Staff estimate that potential sale at approximately $50,000.)

In the case of leasing, the cost to lease the portable for at least 32 months is $80,000 ($2,500 / month) Added to this lease option is $21,615 -- which includes $7,500 for utility installation (above) and $14,115 for supply, delivery, and adding a ramp for accessibility requirements. Total cost is $101,615.

In this case, the 32 month estimate is based on the "best-cast scenario" should the Town be able to secure capital funding from other levels of Government and we move ahead on construction of a multi-faceted community centre. According to each of the short-listed architects, the Spring of 2017 would be the earliest a potential facility like this could open. Please see "Potential Multi-Purpose Community Centre Update" for more detail.)

Given the cost differences between purchasing and renting, along with the potential of recouping costs through selling the portable in 2017, Council agreed with Staff's recommendation that it would be more fiscally responsible to purchase than lease this portable.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Potential Multi-Faceted Community Centre Synopsis

After my column last week, I wanted to give you an overall synapsis regarding recreational and community centre-type needs, wants, and costs and the potential of a multi-faceted community centre.

You will recall that the Town hired LeisurePlan International last summer to develop a market analysis and business case study. After a resident survey, detailed analysis and a comparison to industry standards, LeisurePlan recommended in January that the Town:
• replace the existing single-pad with a new arena facility within the next five years;
• design a new twin-pad facility and phase the construction – build one ice pad first (contingent on capital financing) and construct the second pad after 2023/24 (should the sustaining demand develop);
• provide a multi-purpose facility to accommodate demand for participation in fitness activities, walking/running on an indoor track, and gymnasium sports;
• provide multi-purpose program space;
• not provide an indoor pool due to lack of demand and associated costs;
(For a copy of this LeisurePlan report, please click here. For a copy of their presentation to Council, please click here.)

In April, LeisurePlan presented various options and recommended that the Town build “integrated facilities” – a multi-purpose community complex – for $22 to $27 million. (They estimated that an integrated facility would cost up to $1.1 million less in capital costs than two, stand-alone facilities.) (For a copy of this LeisurePlan report, please click here; for a copy of the LeisurePlan presentation to Council, please click here.)

In May, LeisurePlan projected net operating costs for an integrated facility at $63,715 in the first year, and declining slightly each year for the next four years. (Please click here to review a copy of the LeisurePlan report.) As a comparison, the existing Arena's net operating costs were $64,366 in 2011; $75,477 in 2012; and $92,486 in 2013. (Please click here for a copy of the Staff report.)

Since the estimated costs to operate a multi-faceted community centre is less than the existing arena’s operating loss, Town Staff recommended that the Town could fund the costs to operate a new integrated facility.

In essence, the recommendations say that the community would provide sustaining demand; if we can afford to construct a new multi-faceted community centre, we could afford to operate it.

So, how do we try to make the capital costs for a potential new community centre affordable for local, municipal tax-payers? We need to fundraise and attain financial support from the Federal and Provincial governments.

To do that we will need more detailed plans (design drawings), and tighter cost estimates.

That’s why Council recently appointed community design committee members – with representatives from recreation user groups, youth, seniors, artists, service clubs and the community-at-large. We have also asked for quotes from four, short-listed design firms so we can pick an architect. (To review the Terms of Reference for the Design Committee, please click here.) Here is the list of short-listed four potential architectural design firms.

As I wrote about last week, based on LeisurePlan’s reports, the condition of the existing arena, and imminent developments, Council recently decided to begin design of a potential multi-faceted community centre on the Town-owned lands in the East Fonthill area.

We will continue to keep you informed so we can work together about this very important matter for Pelham.


Architect Chosen -- 15 September 2014 Update:

The Architectural Design Committee, made up of a cross-section of the public, used the Ontario Association of Architects standard criteria to evaluate each Request For Proposal (RFP) Bid and recommend the award to the firm with the highest overall score.

(RFP bids are treated very differently from Tender bids. Tender bids -- like for a bridge or a vehicle -- normally get awarded to the lowest price bid. The awarding of RFPs are not based exclusively on final price, but, rather, on total score and to the firm with the highest score.)

The standard Ontario Association of Architects scoring criteria used: Company Profile 20%; Design Price 20%; Applied Design Philosophies & Methodologies 35%; Time to Complete 10%; Quality of Submission 15%: TOTAL 100%.

After reviewing and interviewing all four submissions (which took at more than 8 hours!), the  volunteer Committee awarded an 89% aggregate score to Petroff Partnership Architects and recommended them to Council for approval.

The $1.05M architectural fee is actually less than the industry’s standard 5% of the facility’s anticipated total construction cost of $22M - $27M.

It is expected to take approximately 6-8 months to complete comprehensive schematic designs and working construction drawings.

Having this shovel-ready design will allow the Town to validate construction costs and to seek Federal and Provincial government investment.

Council agreed to use the $600,000 already allocated in the 2014 budget plus an additional $450,000 from the facilities reserve to complete all aspects of the contract. (Council will be asked to replenish this reserve fund during the 2015 Budget considerations.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Beginning Design of Potential Multi-Faceted Community Centre

At our meeting last Monday, Council heard again from LeisurePlan International (the firm the Town hired last summer to develop recreational facilities market analysis, business case study, and facilities review), this time about the condition of the existing Pelham arena and options for its future use. (To see the presentation, please see the video recording by clicking here -- and view from ~minute 0:30 to ~1:20.)

LeisurePlan had Aecom Engineering review the dire conditions of the facility. Their major findings:
without proper weather protection for nearly 40 years, the concrete block, curtain walls have substantially deteriorated and need replacing;
although the Town coated it a few years ago, the roof now needs full replacement;
electrical systems are reaching the end of their useful life;
fire system is deficient – it should be at least two-zones, some fire exits are deficient;
heating systems for bleachers are starting to fail;
concrete ice-pad is in good condition, while flooring is in poor-to-fair condition;
all public use areas – from change rooms, to washrooms, to canteen, to entrances, to the upstairs hall – aren’t accessible and don’t meet current building code;
ice plant is well maintained, but uses a CFC refrigeration system, which is disallowed for new facilities and is being phased-out.

Aecom projected that the Town could spend $2.5 million to just bring existing facility to a standard where it could be used, as-is, for another 5 to 10 years.

After spending this, the Town would still have a deficient and inaccessible facility (with no improvements to public areas or the ice plant). In addition, the Town would likely face substantial additional costs in 5 - 10 years as other systems fail.

LeisurePlan suggested that Council would need to make a strategic decision very soon about “when is the best time to replace this facility.”

I asked about the suggestion that some have made for retrofitting the existing structure and adding-on either another ice pad and / or community centre features.

LeisurePlan responded that to retrofit the existing building the Town would have to tear-out so much of the facility that all we would be left with would be a concrete ice-pad and nearly 40 year-old structural-steel “bones.”

In fact, LeisurePlan suggested that alternative private or public uses that might need a clear-span would first have to replace the roof, the cladding, and all user interfaces. These are unlikely options.

Finally, LeisurePlan suggested that Haist Street is not an ideal location for a multi-faceted community centre because there may not have enough land and it would not be compatible with the existing neighbourhood.

Based on this report, on the other LeisurePlan findings, and on imminent developments, Council unanimously decided to begin the design for a potential multi-faceted community centre on the Town-owned lands in the East Fonthill area.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Construction “Season” Beginning in Pelham

I thought I better remind you of some road reconstruction projects in Pelham since we appear to be at the start of construction “season.”

“Uptown Fonthill” Reconstruction:
The Region is taking the lead on the reconstruction of Regional Road 20 from Peachtree Park to Lookout Street, and the reconstruction of Haist Street from Canboro Road to  Highway 20 (one of the worst road sections in Pelham).
The works will include adding bike lanes, adding new sidewalks, upgrading the watermain, road reconstruction (including a turning lane to Haist Street North), and a new traffic signal.
We are also replacing the water main from just west of Pelham and up–the-hill (as part of our ongoing fight to rid the Town of cast-iron water pipes). The contractor will also resurface Regional Road 20 from Pelham Street to Peachtree to fix those persistent ripple-bumps.
Regional staff has assured me that Pelham Street will be open to allow for traffic flow during Summerfest.

Downtown Fenwick Revitalization:
At long last, we will be revitalizing Downtown Fenwick this year!
This project includes reconstructing Canboro Road and part of Maple Street (fixing yet another poor road section), part of Church Street, and the Welland Road intersection.
Just like improvements in Pelham’s other Downtowns, we will bury the hydro lines.
In addition, we will replace the storm sewers and tie them correctly into systems on adjoining streets; with a high water table, this deep storm–sewer work will require the contractor to partially “dewater” the area.
All the significant landscaping improvements will not only make Downtown Fenwick more quaint and walkable, it will also honour the historic (and recently refurbished) flagpole.
Based on the pre-construction meeting on June 26, the contractor will start dewatering by mid-July.

Port Robinson Road – Phase Two:
As you know, the Town recently reconstructed Port Robinson Road from Pelham Street to Station Street and added bike lanes and sidewalks. Now, we are continuing to enhance walkability and cycle-ability by reconstructing Port Robinson – from Station Street to Rice Road.
In addition to bike lanes, sidewalks on both sides, and a reconstructed road, we will also be supporting further development on both the North and South sides of Port Robinson by installing sewers. Folks currently on Port Robinson will be able to connect to the sewers (if they so choose to stop using their private septic systems).
The works will also add storm-sewers and help deal with chronic ditch and water issues in the area.

As construction “season” begins in Pelham, I appreciate your patience and understanding. I also look forward to the completion of these and many other improvements in 2014!