New committee tasked with finding fundraising options for Central Park 0
COLLINGWOOD - Councillors have OKed a new committee that will be tasked with finding a way to pay for the proposed multi-use facility at Central Park.
In March, council endorsed - in principle - a roadmap for the proposed $35-million plan based on the recommendations of a committee, and on Monday night set in motion plans to create a second committee to explore "viable funding options."
That committee would be expected to report back to council in September.
However, council deferred a motion to spend $43,000 to hire a consultant that would sound out the marketplace to determine if there was a possible private partner interested in hooking up with the town to build the project.
The facility, as proposed, would see the YMCA and the curling club tied into a larger building that would include two ice rinks and community space.
The three ball diamonds at Central Park would be moved to another location still to be determined; the committee has recommended a new home for the diamonds be found prior to any work being done at Central Park.
Monday's recommendation approved by council also tasks the new committee with the job of determining the future of the Eddie Bush Memorial Arena with the aim of 'repurposing' it for a post-ice rink use.
According to the report from Parks, Recreation and Culture director Marta Proctor, the objective would be to draw people with experience in economic development, government relations, financial analysis, architectural design, communications, and fundraising to sit on the committee.
That raised concerns for Councillor Ian Chadwick, though, who called for a greater role for the Downtown Collingwood BIA on the committee given that the future of the Eddie Bush Memorial Arena was in doubt.
"If we're going to repurpose the Eddie Bush, we have to involve the BIA," said Chadwick, who also expressed a concern that the direction being set for the new committee pre-supposed that the 60-year-old arena would be shuttered.
Chadwick also raised concerns about spending money on a consultant to see if there's any potential private partners.
"I would rather see if we have the internal resources," he said, pointing out that with this latest expenditure, it "would be over $100,000 (over the last three years) without determining whether we can go ahead with it."
Proctor indicated the advice municipal officials had received was that it would be appropriate to "retain neutral services" to explore whether a private partner could be attracted to the project.
Under the request for proposals issued last month, the town had set a budget of $100,000.
Other council members, though, stated their support for hiring a consultant.
"If we don't have the $43,000, we might as well stop wasting the community's time, and stop the process," said Councillor Keith Hull, who expressed frustration that he "didn't hear a whisper of concern" about hiring a consultant until the council meeting - when there had been plenty of time prior to the meeting to ask questions of staff.
"I don't see how spending a fraction of a percentage (of the project's $35-million cost) could not be considered money well spent," he said. "The community has spoken loud and clear, and it's time for this council to step up."
Hull said he would rather see the recommendation to hire a consultant deferred, rather than see it go down to defeat; Councillor Sandy Cunningham presented a motion to defer, which passed with a 5-4 vote.
Councillor Dale West also sided with Hull's position, noting that as anxious as he was to move ahead, he recognized that hiring a consultant was an important and necessary step.
"I don't want to end up in the same train wreck," that plagued previous efforts to build a multi-use facility, said West. "We have to get the work done, and we're at the point where we need to get some final answers, so we can make a final decision.
"Spending this money would put us in a position to make a final decision."
Councillors Mike Edwards and Joe Gardhouse also echoed the position that exploring a public-private partnership was clearly work for professionals.
"At the end of the day, we need to find a partner to move forward," said Cunningham. "And if we can't find one, then this won't move forward."