Monday, September 29, 2014

Planned & Improved Community Facilities

Reopening of Renewed Pool House, June 2014
Facilities are important to communities. They are buildings and amenities where friends and neighbours come together to celebrate, to compete, to gather, to discuss, and to provide service.

That’s why Council and I continue to focus on improving community facilities or other public amenities.

For example, the Town recently built a new Fire Station #2 (in Fenwick) with the funding assistance of the Federal and Provincial Governments. We are currently completing the construction of a new Fire Station #3 (in North Pelham) to provide better service from an appropriately-sized facility; expect information about the Official Opening in mid-October.

But, we haven’t always built new. We recognize important heritage assets like Old Pelham Town Hall; its restoration should be complete by December 1 and I can’t wait for folks to use it again! We also improved and restored the Pelham Pool House in Marlene Stewart-Streit Park – keeping the original structure but improving the change rooms, adding outdoor showers and a public washroom for other park users.

Parks & Recreation Ontario Design Award for
Isaac Riehl Memorial Skatepark, 2014
Parks & Recreation Ontario (PRO) recognized Pelham’s design of recently constructed public amenities. In 2011 we received PRO’s design award for our nine, new and fully accessible playgrounds and last September the Lieutenant-Governor for Ontario, His Hon. David Onley, visited one of the playgrounds. Then, this spring, Pelham won the 2014 PRO design award for the new Isaac Riehl Memorial Skatepark; thanks again to the dedicated members of the design committee.

Council also recently committed to the continued service of the Maple Acre Library. A working group report should present their report to Council and the Library Board soon with recommendations on how best to achieve this.

Finally, I am very pleased that Council worked together with LeisurePlan International and the community to develop a market analysis, business case study, and facilities review regarding arena and community centre desires. Based on a resident survey, detailed analysis and a comparison to industry standards, Council:
Confirmed demand for single-pad arena now, and potential for demand for twin-pad after 2023-24;
Confirmed sustaining demand for fitness activities (working with YMCA), walking / running indoor track, multi-purpose space, gymnasium sports;
Confirmed that the operating costs are affordable for new multi-faceted community center;
Confirmed the dire condition of existing arena and determined an alternative location for a potential new community centre – as part of the other imminent East Fonthill developments (Medical Centre, Retirement Home, Wellspring Centre, retail);

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

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

To do both of these steps, we will need more detailed plans (investment-ready plans), and tighter cost estimates.

That’s why Council appointed a community design committee members in July – with representatives from recreation user groups, youth, seniors, artists, service clubs and the community-at-large.

A couple of weeks ago, Council recently approved the Architectural Design Committee’s recommendation to retain Petroff Architects to develop construction-ready documents for a potential multi-purpose community centre.

Council agreed to fund the maximum $1,050,000 architectural costs – which is a lot of money but is actually less than the standard 5% architectural fee of the total potential project – from already budgeted funds and our facilities reserve.

Now, after clearly determining the recreational facility need and feasibility, Council and I are committed to working to secure Federal and Provincial funding and significant donations so that a potential new facility can be affordable to local tax-payers.

Facilities form an important part of our community. I will continue to work with Council and you to improve Pelham’s community facilities and other public amenities.