Councillor calling for Township to pay for Sunderland Arena construction drawings

At next week’s (Sept. 18) Brock Township council meeting, Regional Councillor Ted Smith will move that the municipality pay for construction drawings for renovations of the Sunderland Arena.

Coun. Smith’s intention to bring this motion forward was announced publicly during the July 31 council meeting, following a presentation from Don Gordon of the Sunderland Lions Club.

The presentation was about recommended improvements to the Sunderland Arena, as well as the Lions Club’s committment to assisting with the project. While the Lions’ did commit to a financial contribution of $500,000 as well as a contribution of $200,000 worth of in-kind labour, Gordon indicated they would not be willing to pay for construction drawings for the project, which are needed in order for renovations to proceed.

Coun. Smith said his motion – ┬áto fund the cost of the required construction drawings, in order to be able to apply for grants from the provincial and federal governments – would help close that gap.

“We already know the (Sunderland) Lions have said they’re not going to share that cost.”

As for what the exact cost would be, that has yet to be determined.

Although he doesn’t have a number, Coun. Smith expects the pricetag to be less than the $150,000 estimated by Township CAO/Clerk Thom Gettinby.

One thing Coun. Smith is confident about is the impact the drawings would have on grant applications.

“We can’t apply for grants without the drawings. We’ve been waiting for this window to open,” he says.

“It’ll be extremely difficult to move ahead without the drawings.”

Construction drawings, according to Coun. Smith, indicate to funders that projects are “shovel ready”. Furthermore, when these projects are granted funding, the Township has the ability to move quickly, given the level of preparation already accomplished.

At the July meeting, Gordon pointed out the federal government had just announced a second phase of their infrastructure program.

“We think it makes sense to pursue every grant opportunity we can,” said the Lion.

“We’re hoping with the provincial election next year, there will be more motivation for cost-sharing.”

Although the drawings are expected to increase the likelihood of grants, a chance remains that outside funding will not become available for the Township. If that happens in this case, Coun. Smith says the Township will need to decide whether to borrow the money or put the project on hold until another grant opportunity presents itself.

He says the Township has a long history of having projects ready to go when funding opportunities become available. It’s not always easy to do, he says, because of the upfront costs, but it makes it worth it when funding is offered and the Township can prove the project is shovel ready.

While he admits he hasn’t “strenuously lobbied anyone”, Coun. Smith says he expects it to pass because of the impact it would have on potential funding from other levels of government. He also says the level of interest from the Lions to help fund this project shouldn’t be ignored.

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