Increased construction costs could impact Sunderland arena project

Soaring construction costs could have a substantial impact on the proposed expansion and  restoration of the Sunderland Memorial Arena.

While Brock Township has secured nearly $5.5 million in funding for the project, a report from CAO Ingrid Svelnis notes that construction costs have increased as much as 40 percent throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The estimated cost of the project – which includes an expanded ice surface, along with the addition of six new dressing rooms, a community room and storage room as well as upgrades to seating and the refrigeration system – is currently pegged at $7.5 million.

At Monday’s (May 10) committee of the whole meeting, members of township council passed a motion authorizing $20,000 worth of work in order to determine the scope of the project moving forward.

Noting that the grant was a “game-changer” for the municipality, Svelnis noted that scope of the project may need to be scaled down given the substantial increase in construction costs since applications were submitted in 2019.

And that could impact the grant recently announced by the provincial and federal governments,

“There are a lot of things that need to be studied…like does a scaled-down approach also mean a scaled-down grant payment from both the provincial and federal governments?” Svelnis asked.

Noting that a centralized arena facility was recommended during the operational review approved by council last year, she also urged members of council to develop a long-term plan for all three facilities before fully committing to the Sunderland project.

“You have to make some decisions now. This can’t be kicked down the road any further,” she said.

“You have to have that discussion.”

Mayor John Grant noted that he intends on speaking with MPP Laurie Scott regarding the estimated cost increase and its impact on the project.

“I am sure that every project (approved under the grant), will be coming in over budget,” he said.

Ward 2 Councillor Claire Doble suggested that Mayor Grant also investigate whether the grant would be transferrable to another arena project.

While Svelnis answered in the affirmative during the meeting, Mayor Grant appeared to refuse that request in a social media post on Wednesday (May 12) by saying the money would only be used for the Sunderland arena.

It’s unclear whether that point will come up for further discussion amongst members of council.

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