Foundations of Community

The Lobby of the Dunnville Memorial Arena.

The Town of Pelham is about to undertake a major project in the potential new Community Centre. The $37 million facility has spurred a great deal of debate, and will have a number of far-reaching repercussions over the next three decades. In order to keep residents as informed as possible, the Voice has reached out to Aldermen and Staff from nearby municipalities that have recently completed similar projects. This series examines and compares community centre costs and services, while taking a candid look at what has worked for other municipalities, and what has not.

This third installment focuses on the Dunnville Memorial Arena and Community Lifespan Centre.

Like Pelham, Dunnville had been considering a new arena for decades leading up to the construction of their facility in 2011. However, when the Regional Municipality of Haldimand-Norfolk dissolved in 2001, Dunnville became part of a single-tier municipality along with Caledonia, Cayuga, Hagersville, and a number of other smaller centres. Though Dunnville’s arena was outdated and in disrepair, it was in better shape than any of the other centres’ facilities, and it began to look like the town would be waiting a while longer yet.

Then, in June of 2009, the Federal and Provincial governments announced a joint investment of $1.85 Billion for infrastructure funding, including community centres. Lorne Boyko, who served on Haldimand’s Council at the time, remembers jumping at the opportunity.

“It was one of the few times that they funded recreational projects, which they don’t usually do,” he said. “At that time we thought it was a no-brainer, we had to get on that list.”

Soon after they crunched the numbers, and it began to look like they could get a facility for both Dunnville and Cayuga.

“But it had to make sense,” said Boyko. “I mean, I had an obligation to the ratepayers, not only in Dunnville but throughout the county.”

Having decided to move forward, Council formed a committee to help formulate the designs.

“One of the positive things that we did as a committee was we went on several site tours,” said Boyko. “We went anyplace that we thought was appropriate, where there was something we might build that we could pick the good and the bad from.”

As is the case in Pelham, there was a great deal of contention over whether to build one or two pads. Ultimately, says Boyko, the numbers did not justify the second ice surface: “The consultants came back and said that the only growth in hockey is in women’s hockey and senior’s hockey. Minor hockey enrollment is going down.”

Initially the project was tendered at $19 million; $10 million for the Dunnville facility and $9 million for Cayuga’s. The lowest tender came in at $21.5 million, a figure with which Boyko and his colleagues decided to move forward.

With $2 million in Federal and Provincial grants, Dunnville further raised $1.4 million through fundraising efforts.

“We had to find a balance between what was acceptable and what was reasonable, and also what was achievable,” said Boyko. “That financial commitment showed the senior staff that Dunnville was serious.”

After grants and fundraising, Dunnville required a $7.65 million debenture. It was well worth it for Boyko, whose only regret is not making the Lifespan Centre a little bigger. Otherwise, he’s very happy with the result: “I think just about everything went well in this project, and I’m a tough critic.”

The Dunnville Memorial Arena is one of four such facilities in Haldimand County. Last year it ran a deficit of $683, 538, which included Principal and Interest payments totalling $693,000 and reserve fund contributions of $209,000. In 2015, Haldimand County collected $57.4 million in taxes from residents.

Quick Facts

Capital Cost: $12 million
Government Grants: $2 million
Fundraising: $1.4 million
Debenture: $7.65 million
Operating Cost: $683,538
(includes Principal and Interest Payments)

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The Voice of Pelham
Pelham's independent news source from the heart of Niagara.