NDCC Twin Pad Delay: Is It a Good Decision?, News (Ayr Rockets Girls Hockey)

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NDCC Twin Pad Delay: Is It a Good Decision?
Submitted By Tricia McEwan on Saturday, March 6, 2021
See the Letter to the Editor from Russ Hutchings, Chairperson Centre for the Community Group North Dumfries.  The CCG was instrumental in raising funds to build the NDCC, and a firm supporter of building a twin pad.  They also contribute many grants for local organizations.

Twin Pad delay, is it a “Good Decision”? 

I would like to offer a different point of view with regards to the Editorial comments in the Ayr News on Feb 10 with respects to the delay in moving forward with the Architectural plans for the Twin pad at the NDCC discussed during the council meeting on January 28th.  It has been confirmed by every Consultants report that has been commissioned by the Township, there is a need for two recreational size Ice Surfaces and in fact we will need 2.3 Ice pads by 2031 for North Dumfries to accommodate our community’s growth.  

The key items that should to be considered are as follows: North Dumfries currently has two ice surfaces, a regulation size ice surface at the Ayr Farmers Mutual Arena at the NDCC and Queen Elizabeth Arena located at the Ayr Community Center (ACC). The ACC arena has been in operation since 1977, making it 44 years old and is no longer regulation size.  The major concern is the facilities age and durability.  The floor and the brine distribution network below the ice surface is a ticking time bomb that we may find out the hard way may not function one day.  There may be no quick fix to repair and may result in a complete shutdown.  This will lead to an abrupt stop to many ice activities in township leaving us with one arena for a minimum of 3 years, forced to go to other centers. This is the major reason why we need to take proactive steps to build a new ice surface.  Secondly, during the October 26, 2020 Consultants presentation on the Arena Strategy, it was relayed to council that each year we delay in moving forward with the twin pad, construction cost will increase by 5.5 % per year.  Current projected cost estimate for a new arena is $10-$11 million in the consultant’s report (at the time we built the NDCC it would have cost approx. $5 million to twin), therefore each year this is delayed costs an additional $550,000 to build the structure.  Next, the Consultants analysis also highlights Operational Expenses savings on average of $275,000 annually when two Arenas are located in one facility.  

Each year we do not have “Shovel Ready” plans available will translate to the Township of North Dumfries being unavailable to reap the benefits of infrastructure funding that may become available by higher levels of Government.  It should be noted that the NDCC at time of building during the “Great Recession” received in excess of $8.6 million from two levels of government, part of the “Build Canada” fund.  In advance of the Build Canada announcement, Township and the Center for the Community Group (CCG) worked together to have Shovel ready plans in hand with a thorough Community Needs Assessment that allowed us to apply and receive these funds.  As we head out of the pandemic, pressure will be on all levels of government to kick start the economy with stimulus funds.  Township CAO Andrew McNeely highlighted to council during the January 28thmeeting, that a possible Federal Infrastructural program could be announced this spring, funds in excess of $100 billion. What if that funding process mirrored that of 2008 by all levels of government in 2021, the facility cost is split 3 ways, which is $3.5 million Feds, $3.5 million Province, $3.5 million Township (that is split, $1.5 million Township and $2 million community fundraising), $10.5 million scaled down recreational size ice surface arena complex for $1.5 million cost to Township. The $275,000 in operation savings annually will pay for townships portions in less than 7 years.  With no architectural plans leaves North Dumfries in an uncompetitive situation against other municipalities when we need to apply for these funds.  We should all agree, this Twin Pad will not be built without funds coming from other levels of government.  Having all the pieces in place (Arena Needs Study and Architectural plans) to apply would help.  Next, there is only one location for the Twin Pad and that is beside the Ayr Farmers Mutual Arena.   There is no disagreement on that location.  CAO McNeely highlighted in the January 28thmeeting that the future Town hall will be located at the west end of the Complex and a pool may be located near the Health Center.  He goes on detailing in length on how the Twin Pad in the design phase can accommodate segments of the pool infrastructure and common elements in its drawing.  A staged approach to construction of various buildings can take place and consultation was taking place with building locations and common requirements. 

I would like to recap our point of view.  We are gambling on a 44-year arena floor to continue to operate, no Architectural plans (a key component) in place to submit for the application process for future infrastructure funding that may become available this year or possibly next.  We could have a facility that could pay for itself in less than 7 years with this funding through operational efficiencies.  Finally, $850,000 annual increased cost with the loss of operational efficiencies and increasing construction cost with a do-nothing approach.  These delays do have their cost and consequences to all in the Township.  

For those who don’t know us, the CCG is a charitable organization that was established in 2004 and is made up of community volunteers.  We are local families and have raised our children in this community.  We raised over $1.5 million for the NDCC. We donate funds annually to community groups. Our group had offered to pay a share, $50,000 towards the Architectural plans to get the twin pad process moving. This amount is proportional to the amount of funds that are expected to be raised by the community for the Twin Pad build as laid out by the Consultant presentation.  If you would like to learn more about the CCG and our history, contribution to the community, etc. please visit the ccgnd.ca.  

 I also invite you to visit the Youtube video https://youtu.be/YA3atmTcR1A?t=3923 (see approx. 1 hr mark), to view the it; discussion and process from Council for the twin pad, town hall and pool. I highly recommend it, the discussion gives multiple views and it is quite enlightening.  

Russ Hutchings

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