By Chad Ingram
Minden Hills councillors continue to discuss which “value-added items” will be included in the township’s arena project, and, with the project looking like it will be wrapped up in a month or so, it’s time for council to make that decision and put this thing to bed.
As has been reported multiple times in this publication, “value-added items,” are those that were not included in the project’s base budget. They range in scope from paving a remaining portion of the parking lot to office and lobby furniture to an LED messaging centre. A grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation will pay for $130,000 worth of the items, leaving a balance of approximately $300,000 for the remaining items, although the township’s treasurer/CAO has stressed a number of times those values are estimates, and not based on quotes.
For the township to purchase and install all of the value-added items – they could also be called cost-added items – would certainly push the price tag for $12.75-million project above the $13 million threshold. The township has also put out a call to the community for donations of items or labour, which has drawn the ire of some residents, who’ve pointed out they’ll already be paying for the project for decades on their tax bills. The bulk of the project’s cost is being paid for through a loan.
Council has discussed the issue of the value-added items for hours and hours during the past several months. As the township’s treasurer/CAO mentioned at council’s last meeting, it’s now getting to the point where staff will not likely have time to make all the procurements in order to have everything in the facility when it is complete. Of course, with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, it’s unlikely the facility will be able to be used for much of anything once it is complete, at least at first.
Still, it’s time for council to just decide, once and for all, which items the township is going to purchase, buy them, finish the project, and carry on. This will entail the weighing of priorities. As Councillor Bob Carter said at council’s last meeting, “I’d rather have a canteen than a paved parking lot,” and obviously each of the seven members of council will have their own interpretation of which items are the most crucial.
With nearly 20 items on that list, council should go through it one item at a time and take a majority vote on each one. If the item receives majority support – four votes – it stays, if not, it is not acquired at this time. The township accrued a whopping surplus of some $900,000 in 2019. A portion of that surplus should be used to pay for whatever items make the cut.
There’s been tons of time. There’s been tons of talk. Finish the project, and carry on.