Plans For Multi-Use Facility Fall Apart

News Story From February 2004

It’s Over For The Proposed
Multi-Use Facility

Councilor Rick Lloyd comments on the reopening of a debate regarding multi-use facility

–Wednesday February 25, 2003

Collingwood Council has overturned an earlier decision to construct a new multi-use centre containing an arena, soccer fields and therapeutic pool on the 10th line just north of 6th Street in the town’s west end. The project qualified for Super Build funding but because of constant delays, would have had to be planned and constructed within a strict timeline. Last night’s decision ends three years of planning and ongoing debate. Councilor Rick Lloyd voted in favour of abandoning the 10th line project. He had brought forth a recent motion to team up with the Collingwood BIA to expand the downtown arena and partner with the Collingwood Family Y to expand existing facilities on Hume Street beside the Collingwood Curling Club. While these two projects are still possible, they won’t qualify for Super Build funding which means the town would have to start over to raise funds and win public support. Mayor Terry Geddes, disappointed with the collapse of the multi-use project, said expanding the downtown arena is out of the question at this time. Geddes said it would result in, a minimum, 5.5 million dollar debenture, something the town cannot afford at this time. The Super Build Funding the town would have received included money to relocate the Collingwood Library to the downtown Federal Building. Last night’s decision means the new Library project is off as well. Mayor Geddes said the community has spoken and its now time for everyone to move ahead.

Looking Back At How It Fell Apart …

— Monday February 23, 2003

There has been another delay in Collingwood Council’s plan to re-visit the multi-use facility matter. On Monday night (February 23rd) Councilor Kathy Jeffery told council that she had received a legal letter two hours prior to the regular council meeting. Jeffery said the late arrival of the letter didn’t allow her time to seek independent legal advice on whether or not she is in conflict of interest as President of Collingwood Minor Hockey and as a Town Councilor about to vote on the multi-use issue. She said she didn’t feel as though she was in a conflict situation as the Collingwood Minor Hockey Association is an incorporated “not-for-profit” operation, and the multi-use project at hand is much broader than just an arena. Jeffery said she was disappointed as it seems the reasons for the letter were, as she put it, “less than admirable.” Jeffery asked that the two motions dealing with the proposed multi-use facility be deferred until Tuesday night allowing her time to obtain independent legal advice. Councilor Ian Chadwick stated that council was unanimous in its support of Jeffery. Mayor Terry Geddes was very firm with the large audience in attendance in the council chambers. He said that he is also frustrated with this latest delay. If Jeffery is unable to obtain the necessary independent legal advice she needs in time for Tuesday night’s meeting (February 24th) the meeting will be delayed again.

Collingwood Council has agreed to discuss the proposed location of a new arena and pool Monday night, February 23rd. Discussion and public opinion heated up again at council’s February 16th meeting when 4 different citizens took to the microphone to voice their displeasure with council’s earlier decision to locate a new arena and pool at the Bay Ridge, 10th Line, west end Collingwood location. Council had held an all-day meeting on Thursday February 5th at which time the decision to locate the proposed new facility in the town’s west end was finalized.

Retired CCI teacher Al Truscott spoke to council on Monday night (February 5th) and quoted from results he had obtained from a telephone survey initiated by council last year. Truscott told council that three out of four people surveyed said it was important to locate the facility downtown. He said 84 percent of those surveyed said it was very important that the facility be accessible by foot or bike, and that over 80 percent of those people surveyed said it wasn’t important to locate the facility close to Blue Mountain. Truscott said he was concerned that council decided to locate the new facility in a remote area of town despite the overwhelming results to locate the facility downtown that the telephone survey delivered.

Retired businessman Bruce Aucterlonie told council to build what it can afford. He said council should tell the government to keep their grant money. Aucterlonie went as far as to suggest to council that the opinion of the citizens of Collingwood needed to be listened to now. He said if this doesn’t happen, council members will hear from the public at election time in 2006. Businessman Gary Griffiths asked why the public was “teased with alternate sites and proposals” when their opinions now seem to be meaningless.

Council has responded to public criticism by voting to re-open discussions on the issue.

Councilor Rick Lloyd initially brought forth the idea to add a second ice surface to the Eddie Bush Memorial Arena downtown. Lloyd says if the town reverses its decision and decides to construct a new arena downtown, it will lose the Super Build Funding which would have covered one-third of the project costs. Lloyd isn’t worried about this happening however as he says the Collingwood BIA has pledged half a million dollars towards the downtown project. Lloyd says the Collingwood Y has pledged at least one million dollars to a proposed expansion plan at the existing Hume Street location. He says with this kind of solid partnerships in place and the overwhelming support of the community to see the project locate downtown and at the existing Y, he feels the project can proceed successfully without government funding.