Finding food for the arena
Minden Hills township will install more vending machines at the S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena for the winter after a request for proposals for the operation of the concession stand at the facility failed to garner any interest.
The tender was first released in July, closing in August, with no bids and re-released in late August, closing Sept. 11.
“Again, no inquiries, no interest, no bids were received,” community services director Mark Coleman told councillors at their meeting on Sept. 27.
“This is apparently an issue, not just for this area, but other areas of the province,” Coleman said, adding there seems to be an increasing trend of lack of interest in the operation of concession booths.
“Obviously, it’s an amenity within the facility we’d very much like to see offered to the users of the facility,” he said.
A staff report from Coleman included options for council’s consideration, including revising and reissuing of the tender. Under the traditional format, the township has provided amenities such as propane and hydro for operation of the booth, while the contractor is responsible for costs related to supplies, its own staffing, etc.
The revenues for the township are relatively minimal, at about $4,000 annually.
Another option was to simply have no food at the arena for the winter, and another to approach companies that operate vending machines providing snacks.
“I’ve done some research on that, most of the companies are in Toronto, there’s one in Orillia, one in Peterborough,” Coleman told council.
“The one in Peterborough is willing to install the machines, stock them and collect the revenues,” he said, adding there would be no concession back to the township.
“The Orillia company didn’t feel there would be enough business to do that,” Coleman said. “They offered to sell or lease machines to us, but we would have to stock and operate, and those machines are quite expensive to lease or purchase . . . If there was any profit margin, we would not recover that expense for two or three years or more.”
Mayor Brent Devolin asked how quickly the Peterborough company could have machines at the arena and Coleman said the company was ready to go and it was a matter of getting an agreement signed.
While there are some vending machines that offer health food as opposed to traditional snacks such as chips and chocolate bars, “to get into those more healthy choices, you’re talking refrigerated machines,” Coleman said, adding that for low consumption and high cost, that would likely not be viable for the township.
Councillor Pam Sayne wondered about the option of food businesses within Minden setting up shop at the arena, selling sandwiches, etc. Coleman said that type of option would require permission from the health unit, and that the vendor would have to commit to being at the arena on a regular basis.
There was interest in Sayne’s suggestion from other members of council.
For at least the short term, council voted to contact the Peterborough company. Coleman said the first season would essentially be a trial run for the company.