SBP may study pool, new town hall

The Sun Times (Owen Sound) - - FRONT PAGE - DENIS LANGLOIS

South Bruce Penin­sula is look­ing at un­der­tak­ing two stud­ies this year on the fea­si­bil­ity of build­ing an aquatic cen­tre and a new town hall, says the mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s mayor.

Jan­ice Jack­son said the plan, which still re­quires fi­nal bud­get ap­proval Feb. 5, is to con­duct both stud­ies around the same time since the re­sults of one could im­pact the other.

“There’s many pieces to the puz­zle. If we go for­ward with an aquatic cen­tre, it may make sense to build an aquatic cen­tre and then per­haps down the road build a town hall at­tached to it,” she said in a re­cent in­ter­view.

“There’s a lot of dif­fer­ent op­tions that we can cer­tainly con­sider, but we’re get­ting all the in­for­ma­tion that we can in or­der to look at the vi­a­bil­ity of any of those op­tions.”

The town has set aside $10,000 in its draft 2019 cap­i­tal bud­get for the town hall fea­si­bil­ity study.

An­other $25,000 is ear­marked in the pro­posed spend­ing plan to re­tain a consultant to help the town de­velop a five-year recre­ational mas­ter plan. Jack­son said the aquatic cen­tre fea­si­bil­ity study will be a com­po­nent of the mas­ter plan.

“To the com­mu­nity, ob­vi­ously the aquatic cen­tre is more im­por­tant than a town hall. Clearly, town halls aren’t top of mind for the com­mu­nity,” Jack­son said.

“It cer­tainly makes it chal­leng­ing for our em­ploy­ees to nav­i­gate a build­ing that is as bro­ken up and chal­lenged as our cur­rent town hall is and for the com­mu­nity to come in and ac­cess it is some­times chal­leng­ing.

“But the aquatic study, I think, is def­i­nitely first and fore­most and so that fea­si­bil­ity study will be started in the next few months.”

South Bruce Penin­sula’s cur­rent town hall in Wiar­ton was built in 1967-68 for $170,600 af­ter the for­mer mu­nic­i­pal build­ing was de­stroyed by fire on Jan. 19, 1967.

The half-cen­tury-old, 10,000-square-foot build­ing is too small and there’s no room for stor­age.

“We’re to­tally run­ning out of space in our cur­rent town hall,” Jack­son said.

The mu­nic­i­pal­ity re­cently moved its com­mu­nity ser­vices depart­ment – which com­prises about half of the town hall staff – to va­cant of­fices at the Ross Whicher Cen­tre a cou­ple blocks away as an “in­terim so­lu­tion.” The depart­ment in­cludes eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, by­law and parks and recre­ation staff.

The cur­rent town hall is also in­ef­fi­cient, is not an ideal lay­out for peo­ple with ac­ces­si­bil­ity prob­lems and re­quires sig­nif­i­cant cap­i­tal im­prove­ments, Jack­son said.

“We did struc­tural as­sess­ments for this town hall and we’re fac­ing just over $200,000 in roof re­pairs. In the re­port, which is sev­eral years old, it also stated that we’re los­ing some­where around $50,000 an­nu­ally in lost heat and air con­di­tion­ing.”

The study will look at things like the po­ten­tial cost and im­pact on the town’s bud­get of con­struct­ing a new build­ing to house its mu­nic­i­pal of­fices and coun­cil cham­bers.

The aquatic cen­tre fea­si­bil­ity study, mean­while, will ex­am­ine top­ics such as the cost to build the fa­cil­ity, op­tions for the cen­tre, po­ten­tial part­ners, grant op­por­tu­ni­ties and user fees as well as pro­jected op­er­at­ing and main­te­nance costs and how the mu­nic­i­pal­ity could off­set those ex­penses.

“The aquatic cen­tre was prob­a­bly one of the most talked-about is­sues that I faced and the same as sev­eral of our coun­cil­lors dur­ing the elec­tion cam­paign,” Jack­son said.

“The peo­ple of Wiar­ton and Sauble Beach in par­tic­u­lar were very vo­cal about want­ing to have an in­door swim­ming pool. They would pre­fer not to have to make the drive into Owen Sound.”

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