Central Park supporters launch petition 0
COLLINGWOOD — The movement to create a multi-recreational facility at Central Park isn't going away.
Only a few days after councillors voted in favour of building an architectural membrane structure — what's been referred to around town as a 'bubble' — over Centennial Pool, and a second one over a new ice rink at Central Park, a petition has been launched calling on town council to rescind those decisions.
The two structures will cost more than $10.6 million, plus another million or so for site servicing; in a report to council, the town's executive management team outlined that it could be paid for without using tax dollars, using a combination of development charge funds, $1.5 million that had been set aside for a new pool at the Collingwood YMCA, $1.3 million from the transfer of Poplar Sideroad to Simcoe County, and $8 million in cash that resulted in the sale of 50% of Collus Power to PowerStream.
A deal with the county for Poplar Sideroad has not been finalized, and council has committed itself to consulting with the public how the proceeds of the Collus sale should be used.
The recommendation to buy those structures — from Calgary-based Sprung Structures — was arrived at six weeks after council passed a motion for staff to investigate that alternative; council only received the report on capital costs on the Friday previous to the council meeting.
The structures are also being 'sole-sourced', as staff have indicated they are not aware of another supplier of a similar product.
That's got Paul Cadieux — who started the Friends of Central Park Project — concerned about the process.
"There are a lot of people who have contacted us, who didn't become involved prior to that meeting, because they didn't think council would make a decision so quickly," said Cadieux, who also expressed his concerns about the process to councillors at the Aug. 27 meeting, prior to their approving the purchase of the structures.
Cadieux said while the alternative to the Central Park proposal — which involved 10 months of work by a volunteer committee, including several meetings with stakeholders and two public consultation sessions — has merit, the expectation was staff would write a report on it and present it to council for deliberation at a later date.
The Central Park Steering Committee presented an estimated $35-million project with two ice surfaces, a 25-metre pool attached to the Y, and community space — tied into the curling club and YMCA to create a 'community hub'.
However, the committee also recommended council first explore whether funding opportunities through upper levels of government existed, or whether a private partner could be found.
Councillors balked at moving on that recommendation, citing the $40,000 cost of hiring a consultant; that money had been set aside in the budget.
"Then, council would have two proposals on the table, and they could go through the process to determine if they could pull out the best parts," said Cadieux. "The overwhelming response I've been getting (to council's decision) has been one of anger, and disappointment that this decision was made that quickly, and without due process.
"This is not about the facility; the whole presentation I gave was about the process, and that it needed to involve the people," said Cadieux.
Cadieux said the report from staff leaves more questions in his mind than answers, including the appropriateness of sole-sourcing a multi-million-dollar project, even though it's permitted under the municipality's procurement policy; he says a search online has turned up suppliers of similar products.
Councillor Keith Hull, during the Aug. 27 meeting, also indicated he found similar products while searching on the Internet.
"How can staff and the rest of council say they performed their due diligence?" said Cadieux.
Cadieux said if the issue was only about providing an additional ice surface, and a year-round 25-metre pool, "then you can tick both those boxes.
"However, the Central Park plan is bigger than that; it was about marrying together different uses, and leveraging partners," he said.
Cadieux said he has also sent a letter to council, requesting permission to address them again.
"They need to step back until there's been an opportunity to have some oversight," he said. "Our message is still the same, that there's an opportunity to save (the Central Park project).
"It's bigger than $35 million, it's not about the building," he said. "It's about a community facility in one location that the Collingwood residents can be proud of."
For the petition, go to www.ipetitions.com/petition/collingwoodrecfacilities/.