Council Considers Jumpstarting Community Centre Project

It seems the Community Centre Project is no longer an “if” but a “when”, and if Mayor McFadden has his way, the “when” will be sooner than later. Four of five Council members voted in favour of proceeding with a new facility with a budgeted ceiling of $15 million, so it seems the project will proceed.

Council and staff have visited facilities from Collingwood to Apsley, looking for the combination of features and construction approaches that would provide a multi-use facility for a variety of users at a price we can afford. The project will be located on the 10 acre parcel south of the municipal offices, an area deemed adequate for the project, has the appropriate zoning designation and is now owned by the township. The prototype for the project is the facility planned for the North Kawartha Community Centre; a facility that is spacious, modern, energy efficient, and has an abundance of natural light throughout the facility.

Staff secured drawings for this facility from the Township of North Kawartha which were designed by MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects (MJMA), with the intention of reducing costs and construction times by making minimal changes to an existing proposal. During a November meeting with MJMA, staff and the Mayor held initial discussions regarding issues including costs, time lines for construction, the location of a facility, and the various amenities and energy efficiencies a new Community Centre could offer. Some of the engineering work and storm water management work completed on the Towerhill property made it a viable potential site for this facility. Based on these efficiencies, the firm estimated the project could be expedited, reducing the timeline by up to 27 months.

Based on these discussions, MJMA submitted a preliminary cost estimate for consideration at the December 19th Council meeting. It included a single pad Community Centre with amenities such as a banquet hall and fitness room for an estimated construction cost of $12 million and a total cost of just under $15 million, subject to the finalization of specific features included in the building.  After noting that the report listed a number of exclusions from this estimate, Council asked the firm be advised that $15 million was the maximum contemplated for this project and would have to include everything.

The conversation then moved to financing. At the December 5th Council meeting, Finance Director Kimberley Pope presented an extensive explanation of the options for financing both the Community Centre and the new Fire Hall projects scheduled for the next several years. Development charges from the new development will flow to both projects, funds from a fundraising campaign will go to the Community Centre project, and there are asset replacement reserves as well as general reserves as well as the township’s remaining debt capacity could be used to fund the remaining balance. Ms. Pope presented a table illustrating the strength of the township’s financial position relative to its counterparts in the area, comparing total reserves to total asset values. The values ranged from 3% of asset values in reserves for Northumberland Township to 37% for Cavan Monaghan at the end of 2017. A $15 million capital expenditure funded with $14 million from reserves would bring this rate to 13%, which would still place it in the top half of the list. The township’s strong reserve position is the result of funnelling slots revenue to reserves and most recently, making a significant contribution to the reserves from annual property tax revenues.

Final discussions focused on the appropriateness of by-passing some of the traditional tender stages for the design and construction of a major capital project like this regardless of the expediency of such a move. This question was directed to legal counsel prior to final decisions on this issue.

Council moved to proceed with the development of a Community Centre for Cavan Monaghan and have staff allocate an upper limit of $15 million less the community fundraising allocation to be fully funded through the reserves. KG

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