New wrinkles in memorial arena debate, sprinkler,
Posted June 12,
There's at least another week to be added to the
political component currently engulfing the fate of Alliston Memorial
An additional information item added to last night's council agenda by
Parks and Recreation Manager Ray Osmond has highlighted the need to
test the sprinkler system, as well as determine what accessibility
upgrades will be required if the facility is going to remain in
"The sprinkler system was designed for an ice arena and would need to
be reviewed for adequacy for expanded use of a fully dry facility,"
writes Mr. Osmond. "The current system does not provide sprinkler
capability for the floor surface. Uses that require combustible
materials must be limited. While for an occasional event a fire watch
may be employed this will not be satisfactory on a continuous basis."
Council approved spending $1,000 to complete the review, which is
expected to take place as soon as possible.
The other item is complying with the Ontarians with Disabilities Act,
which is legislated for all public facilities. Doors and washrooms are
being reviewed for required updates and considerations for ramps.
There's also direction to include charting the pros and cons of
establishing a Municipal Service Board to operate the arena as an arm's
length venture - though the Town would still own the facility.
Mr. Osmond's report last night sparked another chance for residents in
favour of saving the arena to speak to the issue. Lawn signs have also sprouted with a message to save the arena.
Ron Fischer, who prefaced his comments by noting he has been a
facilities manager for about 18 years, suggested the building faced
three levels of deficiencies: 'A, B, and C,; A being must-dos;
and C the wish list.'
"Really we need 'A', that safety and security stuff done, but that
big dollar figure. The number thrown out before is $25,000 of must do,
but that probably is a bit low. But it is a far cry less money than
trying to build an entirely new building," said Mr. Fischer. "This
building is pretty much
rock solid. It's kind of ugly, it's beat up, its been around the bend,
and its been misused. But it is a solid building that exists, and it
exists in an excellent location. That building is in the heart of our
town. It is near and surrounded by basically everyone in Alliston. The
rec centre, while a lovely facility, is over there on Industrial
Parkway and our children can kill themselves trying to get there on
foot or on their bicycle.
The building is not necessary to be upgraded to the point where it is a
pretty and fufu kind of facility. It is currently being well used for
what it is being used for. It needs to be a little rough, a little
rugged, a little utilitarian and that means we don't have to spend a
lot of money for upgrades that aren't really necessary."
Thomas Pelletier representing the roller derby league that calls
Alliston arena home, said their group alone will provide approximately
$30,000 in rental revenue, which is the total amount that's estimated
in a previous report for the entire user groups.
"Provided the other leagues and uses are currently there, you're
at over $50,000 in revenue just on the ice pad alone. Couple that with
the hall rental, which is always getting used because it's the only
place in town where people can get a special occasion permit. You take
that away, you're seriously reducing a serious opportunity," said Mr.
Pelletier. "As opposed
to constantly sinking money into looking at ways to expanding the new
rec centre, what's wrong with the old one? It's a fantastic facility."
It's a sentiment Ward 8 councillor Jim Stone carried on with his
defence of keeping the arena open.
"This building will accommodate over 1,200 people. There are a lot of
people saying well yeah, we can move this to the rec centre. No you
can't. There is no space in there that is going to
accommodate 1,200 people," said Mr. Stone. "When we built the addition
to the Tottenham
Community Centre, I asked the person who built the new facility what
the old arena was worth. He said about $9 million and it's a lot
than the Alliston Arena. So when people are trying to assess the value
of what's there right now and say oh yeah we can replace it for $2
million or $2.5 million, that's ridiculous because you're not going to
do that. I think the cost of the repairs is grossly over inflated, and
the value of the building is under inflated."
Ward 3 councillor Paul Whiteside said he was prepared to put forward a
scenario whereby the minimum required would be spent to squeeze out
maximum operation, and then revisit its progress after three years.
to realize we don't have $2.5 million, we have no capital budget this
year with respect to either upgrading that facility to that tune or on
a new addition and I'm not prepared to borrow or debenture that money,"
said Mr. Whiteside. "It seems there's been a
new fly in the ointment. I sat on the arena task force and it was my
recollection that all we would have to do is the structural changes
estimated $25,000 to let the facility to continue to operate. We have
some life safety issues that have been identified in this report. The
sprinkler system and accessibility. With all due respect, in the
report, in the wish list of the ($2.1 million), there was $150,000
included for fire sprinkler system to be upgraded. But it was my
understanding that wasn't required at this point in time. ... We've got
to make a decision on this as soon as possible. I don't need
a heck of a lot more information to make my decision. But it appears we
need two more pieces of information (sprinker system and
A component of Mr. Osmond's report suggested that the Town look
concurrently at the possible expansion/renovation of the NTRC that
could accommodate the dry uses that would be displaced if the memorial
arena were closed.
"We don't have the money to do it, and I'm not prepared to spend
$15,000 to look at schematic drawings etc. That's another whole issue,"
said Mr. Whiteside. "Let's deal with the Alliston Memorial Arena and I
would be prepared,
and hopefully (Mr. Osmond) can come back in a week's time, and at that
point, I can
put a motion on the floor."