Councillors seek clarity on 'value-added items'
By Jenn Watt
Considerable confusion regarding “value-added” items for the arena project remains following a discussion at Minden Hills council on Feb. 13 in which a large, multicoloured spreadsheet was presented to councillors.
In December, Councillor Bob Carter had raised concerns about whether a previously prioritized list of value-added items was being followed. At February’s meeting, CAO/treasurer Lorrie Blanchard tried to clarify the process, but the report still wasn’t clear to all.
“Quite frankly, as I enjoy the palette of colours that you’ve presented today, I’m not totally certain that I now know what’s in and what’s out,” Carter said at Thursday’s meeting, referring to the three-page colour-coded spreadsheet Blanchard presented.
Value-added items on the list include a range of extras from a canopy at the rear entrance to paving the entire parking lot to artistic murals.
Councillor Pam Sayne said that she found the process complicated and was confused by what was considered an extra and what was, or should have been, part of the original $12.5 million quoted for the rebuild. She referred to an earlier part of the process in which a stack of books was presented to councillors with details about the project.
“So, the original value-added amount included in that stack was $252,000,” Blanchard replied. “Off the top of my head I apologize I don’t know exactly what that list was, but it was made very clear those were value-added and were not included in the $12.5 [million].”
Carter said, he would like to see a clear list of items of what is left to fund after the cost of the projects covered by the $132,000 Trillium grant were taken into account, minus the other projects previously agreed to by council. He said he understood that Blanchard’s spreadsheet may be complicated because that is what she needs for her purposes, but it needed to be more straightforward for council.
“What I was attempting to do here was to say, it does all match,” Blanchard said. “You received two completely different looking reports [last year], but the items didn’t change, the priorities didn’t change…”
Mayor Brent Devolin said he wasn’t worried that the numbers weren’t matching up, but agreed with Carter that the presentation of the information wasn’t easy to digest.
“Remember there used to be those posters that you’d look at ... and you’d relax your eyes and then you’d see it in 3D? For most of us... we don’t conceptualize it that way. ... I know the numbers all match, I’m not worried about that,” Devolin said.
Carter said he was happy to wait until more definitive numbers came in from outstanding bids.