Support voiced for multi-use recreational facility
Norfolk resident Sandie Scott places a sticker on an information board at Monday's county recreation facilities town hall meeting in Port Dover. About 75 people turned out to voice their opinion regarding the proposed project. JACOB ROBINSON/Simcoe Reformer
The stickers told the story.
At a Port Dover town hall meeting concerning Norfolk recreational facilities, about 75 people let their feelings be known that not only are they in favour of a proposed multi-use recreation hub but are OK with it being in Simcoe.
Upon entry to the Lions Community Centre, attendees were given stickers to indicate their preference on information boards asking people if they would support a project that could include a double-pad arena, pool, seniors centre, etc. or prefer rebuilding existing facilities.
Sticker placement showed people greatly supported not only building a new facility and replacing aging or outdated buildings such as Talbot Gardens, the Annaleise Carr Aquatic Centre, the Culver St. Administration Building and Simcoe Seniors' Centre, but also a proposed location on the corner of Ireland and Decou Rd. in Simcoe is the prime spot.
This meeting – chaired by council’s recreation advisory subcommittee of Windham Coun. Jim Oliver (chair), Simcoe Coun. Peter Black and Langton Coun. Roger Geysens - was the first since the Sept. 18 gathering in Waterford was delayed when more people showed up than the room could handle.
“I'm very much on board with the idea of multi-use, I think because of our geographic location, if we had an Olympic pool, if we had an indoor soccer facility and indoor track we could start becoming a centre for tournaments, for out of town people to come in for two or three days,” said Port Dover resident Lyle Benson.
“We've got a great location.”
Fellow Port Dover resident Diane Leaker agreed.
“When you think about all the sports people we have produced who have grown up here in Norfolk County, having something like a Norfolk hub would be amazing,” she said. “It would bring tourism in and there would be places for people to really compete on a higher class level and it would be fun for some of us seniors to go and watch them. I think it is a wonderful idea.”
Just before the public comment portion, Norfolk's general manager of community services Bill Cridland told the crowd that the combined estimate to bring all four buildings in question up to standard is $12-15 million. Should Norfolk be approved for government grants totalling two-thirds of the facility, that could in theory cover what might amount to a $40-50 million project. That's the estimated price tag (including inflation) for a facility built in Wilmot that includes two ice pads, Olympic-sized pool, running track and active living centre.
“If you consider the cost of heating and electricity now, it's only going to get worse when they start bringing in carbon taxes,” said Port Dover engineer Marion Gadsby. “A multi-use facility is going to be much more efficient. Whenever you make ice you create heat – you use that to heat your pool. Whenever you use the Zamboni, instead of putting the (excess) ice outside to melt on its own you store it and use it to air condition the building.
“There's all kinds of possibilities if you are building new buildings – you can put solar panels up on the roof, you can do all kinds of different things.”
This isn't to say there weren't some concerns raised. Some asked what will happen to existing arenas such as Langton's should a hub be constructed. County officials assured those in attendance that no other rec facilities are in danger should the hub get approval. Benson urged the group to find more ways to keep youth in the area through economic development efforts so the hub will be well utilized.
“If we don't have youth, who is going to use these facilities 10 years from now?” he asked. “Some of us won't be here.”
Gadsby is a regular user of the Annaleise Carr Aquatic Centre. In addition to air quality issues that have plagued the facility in the past, it's also too small, she said. Swimming lengths in a pool of its size (five lanes, 25 metres) mean always running into other users.
This decision, she said, must be done with the future in mind.
“Even if I never use the facility, I would much prefer my tax dollars to go towards a new community hub than repairing several old facilities since the operating costs will be significantly lower,” she said.
The next meeting will be held at Waterford Public School Sept. 28 on East Church Street. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The formal portion begins at 7 p.m.