Answers to Councillor Hull's questions
The Town of Collingwood's executive management team provided Councillor Keith Hull with the answers to his 20 questions. The town has provided us with a copy of what was presented to Councillor Hull on Monday night.
Q: The estimated cost of the project is $11,633,000.00 not including commitments to renovate the Eddie Bush Arena. Regardless of the price tag, $5 million, $10 million or $35 million the Central Park Steering Committee (CPSC) recommended moving forward with a second committee to pursue all funding and fundraising options. Why would Council still not pursue this option in an effort to reduce the overall cost on the Town Finances? Collingwood Minor Hockey has a building fund, have they been asked to contribute to this project and if not why? (Library)
A: There are no funding opportunities at this time. This statement is validated by the following actions.
Mayor Cooper and Deputy Mayor Lloyd attended the Ontario Good Roads Association Conference in February and met with various Ministers. During these meeting there were requests made for various projects and there were no funds available. This conference is also an opportunity for the Premier to announce new funding programs but there was no funding announcements made. Also in February, the Mayor and Deputy Mayor attended the Liberal Heritage Dinner where they sat with the Premier’s Chief of Staff. Throughout the evening they discussed the possibility of available funds and were informed that there was no available funding at this time.
In August, the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and five other members of Council and two senior staff attended the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) Conference in Ottawa. At the conference they had further discussions with various Ministers about funding and the message was very clear that there were no funds available. This conference is also used as a platform for the Minister of Finance or the Premier to announce new funding programs. Again no programs were announced.
At the present time, there are two major fundraisers in the immediate Collingwood area. Both the Collingwood General and Marine Hospital Foundation and Hospice are fundraising for their important community needs. Collingwood Minor Hockey has discussed contributing $40,000.00 to be allocated towards the ice pad and the Collingwood Clippers are also willing to dedicate, if necessary, $100,000.00 from funds that may be collected through their own fundraising events.
Q: It was mentioned publicly for the first time that $1.3 million dollars will be made available for this project from proceeds of the sale of Poplar side road to the County of Simcoe. Why are these funds being automatically allocated to this project and not road improvements throughout the Town or other projects? Has this transaction been approved and at what level?
A: $1.3 million was paid to the Town of Collingwood from the County of Simcoe for the Area Transportation Project. This amount can be allocated to roadways or other projects, as directed by Council. The amount was mentioned by Staff as being an available funding opportunity to mitigate any tax increase caused by the new recreation facilities.
Q: The Mayor & Deputy Mayor have suggested there is no money from either the Province or Federal levels of government for this project. Do they have something in writing with the words "No Funds Available" at this time? Have they even asked? (Eddie Bush)
A: Refer to question 1
Q: Why is there no contingency tee included in the above estimate? The CPSC report included a 20% contingency fee.
A: The new recreation facility buildings do not have a contingency because they are “turn-key” facilities and will be delivered completed by the manufacturer. However, there is $700,000 set aside for site preparation and hard surfacing of the sites themselves.
Q: No business or operating plan was presented to Council on Monday evening for consideration. In the Treasurer's report she indicated that one-and-a-half staff persons would be allocated to Centennial Pool. On most days during the summer there are three employees at the pool. Are we cutting staff or are there operating costs that have yet to be presented to Council for consideration?
A: The Director of Parks, Recreation and Culture, Marta Proctor, has developed the operating plans for the facilities, which have been reviewed and approved by the Treasurer and Acting CAO.
Q: Many Councillors have suggested that this alternative project will not cost the taxpayers. During this budget year the Council in fact cut services to the outdoor pool. Now they are going to expand services from three months to 12. What is the cost estimate of the additional nine months and will these costs be absorbed in the form of user fees, tax increases or service cuts to other programmes within the purview of the Municipality?
A: The net deficits of the two facilities are estimated at $250,000 for the pool and $90,000 for the ice pad. The pool’s estimation is similar or equal to the former Contact Centre. Council will consider this at the budget discussions for 2013. The ice pad deficit has taken into consideration the additional revenues that will be acquired from the increase in ice rentals. Both facilities will be closely monitored and managed appropriately with the optimization of staff. To be accurate, only $3,000 was cut from the budget and it related to hours of operation.
Q: Other then lane swimming, lessons and open time what programmes are being considered by the Parks, Recreation and Culture department and how will they be managed and paid for?
A: The Town is approaching the YMCA of Simcoe Muskoka to consider the operation of programming for the new facilities. With this, there have been discussions of new programming such as synchronized swimming, diving and water polo. Thought will also be given to the addition of a hot tub or small warm pool and dry land training equipment at the Centennial Pool site. Continued consultation with the YMCA will be necessary to assure that the recreational needs are being met.
Q: $8 million from the proceeds of the sale of COLLUS are being allocated to this project. The Acting CAO in his presentation referenced at least two times that this is "to be confirmed by public" as per the Staff report. What does this mean?
A: A public meeting in regard to the use of the COLLUS funds is currently being scheduled. This may involve two meetings and incorporating choices recommended by Council.
Q: Why is the Municipality moving forward with an $11-million project and not requesting an RFQ for this project? Even if Sprung is the most qualified would an RFQ not make the process more competitive and is it not possible that other solutions may come forward that Council and staff is not aware of at this time?
A: The technology being used for the new recreation facilities is the patented Sprung technology, which is unlike any other on the market to date. To the best of our knowledge through considerable review, Sprung is the only technology that has not experienced a collapse. The buildings are considered 60-year structures, with a 20-year guarantee on the membrane and 30-year guarantee on the structure itself. This far exceeds all other guarantees. In fact many standard roof types have less than a 20-year guarantee.
Sprung was advised that they were in a competitive process, competing against traditional methods and construction practices. Further, they were advised that the traditional methods would be favoured.
Q: When asked if this product has ever been used to enclose an outdoor pool of this age in this climate the representative from Sprung replied ‘‘No.’’ Why then is staff prepared to proceed with the purchase without an Engineering report from a Pool Consultant? What guarantees are in place from the manufacturer? Is the Municipality getting a discount for being a "test project" and if No why not?
A: The Centennial Pool underwent a review and renovation in the past two-to-three years. At that time, the piping and deck were replaced for 1.3 Million. The existing tank, which was also inspected by Sprung, is considered to be in good shape and not in need of replacement. A third independent peer review is being sought.
The question was asked at the August 27th meeting if there was a Sprung-covered pool this far north, the truthful answer was no. Your question is has Sprung covered a pool in our type of climate. The answer is yes! The pool in Salt Lake City, Utah was also an existing outdoor pool that was covered by Sprung and their climate is in fact more severe. On average they have higher highs and lower lows than Collingwood and with an average snowfall greater than Collingwood.
Q: Are we certain the ice surface can be located there? Have studies been completed?
A: The resolution was very prescriptive that the ice pad be located at Central Park. There is the very small risk that a one-in-a-100-year flood may possibly flow through this area and in fact the entire downtown core. Flood-proofing is being considered by the Town’s engineers.
Q: It was suggested that geothermal could be used to provide energy for the concept presented by Ameresco? Could this same technology be used to provide energy to the Sprung ice surface? Is Staff looking at green energy alternatives?
A: In terms of green energy technology, Ameresco proposed geothermal technologies, to be buried beneath the existing ball diamonds at Central Park, and solar panels to be positioned atop the structure. The cost difference between the Sprung structure and one that would be able to support the proposed solar panels is considerable and would not be paid off for decades. The geothermal technology is also quite costly, especially if the existing ball diamonds are to remain and not to be removed or reoriented.
Q: If the only item being built at Central Park is a single ice surface did Staff consider simply building the structure at another location and therefore not having to disrupt any current assets at the park?
A: The resolution was prescriptive to Central Park. Alternative locations would be contrary to the Central Park Redevelopment Project.
Q: If this is a phased-in approach, has Staff provided Council with a concept for Central Park long-term? If a second ice surface was built would it be a stand alone or joined to the proposed single pad?
A: Twinning of the ice pad at Central Park is feasible with the new design; however, sufficient parking may be an issue that arises if it is still deemed necessary to retain the ball diamonds.
Q: After 10 months of hard work and public engagement by the CPSC, an alternative plan was put forward by two members of Council. Within less than two months and NO public input Council was willing to vote on a project that has so many questions unanswered. Who is responsible for ensuring that due diligence is completed? Is it the Acting CAO? Is it the Mayor? Is it a combination?
A: Council received the Central Park Redevelopment Project (CPRP) report from the Steering Committee in March of 2012. At that time, the report was adopted in principal, citing a number of issues including overall cost, location and phasing. On June 11, 2012, Council met at the Collingwood Public Library for a public meeting, which provided Council the opportunity to voice their personal opinions, along with the opinions of those who they have spoken to. Common themes emerged throughout that meeting, including concerns over cost, the need for an ice pad and six-lane, 25-metre pool, the urgency of these needs to be met, and the CRPC report.
On July 16th, 2012, Council considered a Staff Report, submitted by Parks, Recreation and Culture Director Proctor, which offered a host of options for Council’s consideration. To this end, Council voted unanimously to have staff make recommendations for a fabric cover on the existing Centennial Pool and an ice pad at Central Park, and to come back to Council with this information no later than August 27, 2012. Each of these recommendations was offered up to Council by PRC as viable recommendations.
During this time, staff worked extremely hard to meet the requirements of the Council resolution. Input was given by various staff and Council Members. No attempts at contact were made by the YMCA of Simcoe Muskoka or the Parks, Recreation and Culture Advisory Committee to staff.
On August 27th, 2012, staff brought forward a report and presentation that was accepted by Council (8-1) for the ice pad and (7-2) for the pool.
Q: Has this decision followed the Town's very own Procurement Policy? The Deputy Mayor ran his campaign on fiscal responsibility and prides himself on being a financially successful small business owner. How is it possible then that Council would vote to support spending $11 million by sole-sourcing this project? It only takes five minutes to Google "Insulated Architectural Membrane" to see that there are numerous companies and options available for consideration. Again, Sprung may be the best option but the question needs to be answered. This summer alone Council through a competitive process has awarded contracts for the demolition of the Mountain View Hotel, purchase of a new Town vehicle, and the first phase of repairs to the Curling Club — all with a total of less than $500,000 through the use of an open tender process.
A: The Town’s Procurement Policy is developed to ensure that all purchases are performed in a fair and financially-responsible manner. There are times when certain technologies (such as pumps, chlorinators, etc.) are leading edge, one-of-a-kind, or most appropriate for certain types of situations or applications. When purchasing such technologies, one must always practice good judgment and professionalism. This was demonstrated by the Treasurer, Marjory Leonard. The sole source provider was advised that they were in a competitive process with traditional methods and construction practices. Further, the sole source provider was advised that the traditional methods would be preferred.
Q: Council has suggested that this alternative option meets the ice and aquatic needs of the community. With the exception of the Clippers and those that like to lane swim how does an additional five metres meet the needs of the community?
A: Meeting the needs of all sometimes comes with a significant cost to taxpayers. When opportunities become available, even if they do not meet the needs of all, it may still be considered a good solution. The Clippers are a good organization that has trained and helped grow many of our young athletes over the years. At any time, their numbers may appear small, but the invaluable experience that they have afforded to the hundreds of our young citizen over the years should not be minimized.
Q: What happened to addressing the needs of those in the community who require a therapeutic pool and are awaiting the replacement of the Town's very own therapeutic pool as a result of the closure of the Contact Centre?
A: The Central Park Redevelopment Project Report discussed the changing demographics of our community and the need for a warm water therapeutic pool. The letter received from the YMCA in June did not provide any indication of urgency of this need at this time. However, no action has been taken by the Town to discount the need for a therapeutic pool, and opportunities to meet this need will be reviewed and considered.
Q: Council has suggested that the YMCA is not in a financial position to contribute to Central Park at this time. Has Council & Staff explored the idea of loaning the YMCA the money to help build both a 25-metre pool as well as converting the current Y pool into a therapeutic pool, as well as cost-sharing of operating expenses? What would that look like from a cost perspective over a five-, 10-, 15-year period vs. what has been currently approved both from a capital and operating expense.
A: In June, the YMCA provided the Town with a letter that clearly stated that they could not move forward without the $3 million Accessible Ontario Funding. They state, “we have made it very clear to the planning committee that the YMCA cannot proceed with an additional pool tank attached to our current facility.” They also went on to indicate that, if the Town wished to build the expanded 25-metre pool with an observation deck they would assist in a Capital Campaign and help offset the losses of the new facility. There was no follow-up action by the YMCA to staff during the five-week period of time between the passing of the unanimous July 16th resolution and the August 27th, 2012 Council meeting. This lack of action intuitively led to an understanding that staff was on the correct path to a good, positive solution. At no time had the YMCA mentioned the need for a therapeutic pool in the letters provided to the Town. The Town recently took the first steps to reach out to the YMCA regarding a potential operational partnership and to further investigate the short-, medium-, and long-term aquatic needs of our Community.
Only now has the YMCA offered up at any type of alternative option and well after Council’s final decision.
Q: The Staff Report suggests that input was received from seven members including, the Executive Management Team and three others. Was the recommendation as put forward in the Staff report unanimous?
A: Input and consultation was received from Members of Council, Ed Houghton, Acting CAO; Sara Almas, Clerk; Marta Proctor, Director of Parks, Recreation and Culture; Larry Irwin, Director of Information Technology; Marjory Leonard, Treasurer; Dave McNalty, Manager of Fleet Facilities and Purchasing; and Dennis Seymour, Manager of Recreation Facilities. All staff provided advice and direction throughout this process. Staff worked diligently to meet the requirements on the direction of Council and did so in a professional manner. At no time did any member say they were not in favour of any portion of the direction given, even when directly asked. The question has been brought forward several times through e-mail correspondence, and it appears that there is a thought that all participating staff were not in favour. We can advise that all contributing staff have been asked and all contributing staff have acknowledged their support of the recommendations.