Council seeking cheaper option for family change room at Tony Rose

February 4, 2016   ·   0 Comments

While the spending of additional funds on the Tony Rose Memorial Recreation Centre has long been a hot topic, it doesn’t seem to be one that will be settled anytime soon.

Since keeping the pool and arena functioning during the current four-year term of Council was voted in, discussion has come about regarding necessary renovations to the arena.

During 2015, Council had authorized staff to hire an architect to draft a proposal to include a family change room at the Tony Rose arena, to reflect an option offered at the Alder Street rec centre. At Monday night’s council meeting, staff presented the architect’s designs to council as an information item. While no action was required by Council, a discussion ensued as to whether they should ask for a different, less costly design.

“A good architect works with the person they are designing property for, and I know our architect spoke with staff and would have received direction,” said Mayor Jeremy Williams. “I’m just a little disappointed we didn’t put as much input in as we should have had as council.”

The architect provided multiple designs, with the basic option starting at about $336,000, and the most expansive costing around $2 million and involved expanding the footprint into the parking lot, providing more office spaces and a large family change room, along with upgrades to the existing change rooms.

“I think I was hoping for a little more Walmart, and a little less fancy,” added Mayor Williams. “Not that I don’t like it, it’s looking realistically at Tony Rose and deciding whether or not we can afford it, $336,000 for a change-room. I can’t envision a point where we should have to tear everything out and start anew. I think we should ask the architect to come back with a design for a lower amount, and we might get it done.”

But Councillor Scott Wilson felt either option presented could be viable, as it could help address previous concerns relayed about the Town running out of office space.

“I think the architect should be commended for giving us an option in designs,” said Councillor Wilson. “I remember the discussion of the need for a family washroom, and we all jumped behind it. The architect has gone through this and presented a great design which has an appealing family washroom and maintains a men’s and women’s washroom as well. We heard recently that we are out of office space here, and talked about how we could carve out more space.”

He added that the project, as outlined, would tackle multiple birds with one stone, making it a valuable investment.

“If you want to have a first class facility that addresses all of our needs, then it is going to cost,” he said. “I don’t think any of us expected this, but the options in my opinion address all our needs.”

But Councillor Sylvia Bradley sees the cost of either project as far too much to be putting into the older arena.

“I read this report with shock,” she said. “I could not possibly go to the public and say let’s pour another $340,000 into Tony Rose. We have people coming to us every day voicing concerns about the cost. I can’t go forward with spending any more money at Tony Rose. To me, this would be completely inappropriate to say we are going to toss money at another facility that many people don’t need.”

Part of the problem leading to the high costs is that it would not be possible to work within the current footprint without having to tackle other problems.

“The architect looked at the current footprint, the size of the pool and the potential amount of use, and it was not possible,” explained CAO Ed Brennan. “The filter room and pumping system would need to be changed and updated, and that issue is not addressed in either option at this time. With either one, there will still be a lot of work that needs to be done to bring the pool up to today’s standard and extend its life.”

The discussion included other possibilities, such as creating a smaller family change room within the existing area, that would require less work, and hopefully come at a lower cost. A motion was passed to send the project back to the architect and ask them to develop an option with a smaller family change room at an appropriate cost.

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