Hub Staff

In three different items before Saugeen Shores Council at the October 15 Committee of Whole meeting, the anticipated recreation and aquatic facility took centre stage in Council Chambers.

First, in a staff report presented by Director of Community Services Jayne Jagelewsk, it was recommended that Saugeen Shores Council supports the Community Complex (the Plex) as the preferred location.

Jagelewski cited four different studies that recognized the Community Complex as the optimal site for the new facility with reasons including easy accessibility from all town residents, the high profile of a central recreational hub, the convenience for families to have multiple recreational amenities at hand, and lower estimated development costs compared to any other reviewed sites.

Furthermore, Jagelewski identified the potential of utilizing the waste heat from the arena for pre-heating water and air in the pool area. Due to the Plex already being a bustling destination, an increase in traffic would have minimal impact on residents.

In her presentation, the director included a footprint of the proposed facility which incorporated a second ice pad and the new recreation and aquatic facility directly to the north of the existing arena. The proposed parking lots would provide 284 parking spots which Jagelewski deemed appropriate when compared to the 300 available at the Owen Sound YMCA. The Owen Sound facility is considered one third larger than the proposed Saugeen Shores facility.

Councillor Jami Smith and Vice Deputy Mayor Mike Myatt both expressed concerns about whether the parking would be sufficient with the facility serving multiple functions simultaneously. Saugeen Shores CAO David Smith and Jagelewski both suggested that these instances would only occur a handful of times in a year and accommodations could be made as well as a potential for expanded parking to the south.

Myatt and Deputy Mayor Don Matheson argued that the Ad Hoc Advisory Committee was given the task to research three alternative sites for the recreation and aquatic centre and will be presenting their findings at the October 28 Council meeting. Matheson questioned why the vote could not be deferred until the October 28 meeting.

“We talk about the grant application,” noted Myatt, “I personally talked to the provincial government about this and I know our staff have too, that the site is not mandatory to put in the grant application. Is it helpful, yes, but I daresay they won’t even be looking at the grant application until December/January,” the vice deputy mayor predicted.

Mayor Luke Charbonneau stressed that the vote would not bind them to the Community Complex site but would help to strengthen their application for funding.

“My personal preference would be to have that decision on the 28th, let’s get that decision made, give our staff the time on the ground to draft an application, a strong one with as many decisions made as possible that we can hand to the province with the highest degree of probability for success to receive that funding,” stated Charbonneau. “If it comes to a motion to defer tonight I won’t support it, but of course I leave it to you to decide how you wish to proceed," the mayor added.

Smith declared a concern that three new sites coming to the table from the Ad Hoc Advisory Committee have not been extensively researched, whereas the Plex has been surveyed by four consultants as well as staff. Smith noted an insufficient turnaround time for staff to properly research a new site at this time.

“You gave us a few weeks to look at this site that has been under consideration for a decade, you’re going to give us a couple of days or a week to look at a site that we’ve never looked at,” explained the CAO. “It’s very concerning," Smith said.

“Advancing this site tonight and if something transpires at the next meeting... we really won’t be able to look at a brand new site that we’ve never considered in that period of time at the level of detail that council requested us to do on this site," Smith concluded.

“I have a concern that we struck an Ad Hoc Committee and I’m not quite sure why. We have this two week period, or a little less than two week period, that staff couldn’t consider [an alternate site] in the next two weeks,” argued Councillor Cheryl Grace.

In the end council voted to defeat the recommendation 5 to 4, thus not recommending the Community Complex as the preferred facility site at this time.

What followed was the Saugeen Shores YMCA business plan, also presented by Jagelewski. The plan was modelled on the facility being situated adjacent the Plex. The proposed 42,000 square foot facility would include amenities such as a six-lane 25-metre pool, a smaller leisure pool, walking/running track, weights and fitness equipment area, fitness class space, a gymnasium, change rooms with steam area and office space.

Jagelewski emphasized a potential $407 million in federal funding and $320 million in provincial funding available through the Community, Cultural and Recreation grant stream over 10 years beginning in 2019/2020.

“With my 25 years in municipal recreation, I can tell you that these grant opportunities are scarce and the previous one was in 2009,” reported the director.

The business plan was well received, but both Councillor Grace and Vice Deputy Mayor Myatt expressed concern in regards to the Saugeen Shores Lifesaving Club (SSLC). These concerns were motivated by an Open Forum presentation from Denise Sayers who feared the SSLC would suffer from being forced into a YMCA program. Sayers compared their nine hour a week training program to a two hours weekly allocation under the YMCA operation and questioned how the YMCA would maintain the SSLC coaches that she described as an integral part of the club's success.

Jagelewski pointed out that the SSLC is actually a Saugeen Shores program run by the municipality, compared to the Breaker’s Swim Team, an actual club who books and manages their own swim time. The director suggested the SSLC could become a club and operate in the same manner as the Breaker’s Swim Team if they desired.

“The YMCA has taken a very good look at our SSLC program. They love the program, in fact they mimicked their program from our program,” declared Jagelewski. “It’s a valuable program that we started from the grassroots up that other communities have adopted so why would we eliminate a program like that, we wouldn’t” the director concluded.

Councillor Kristan Shrider wondered why the municipality would be responsible for an operating deficit as stated in the business plan.

“We’re not building the facility for the YMCA, we’re building the facility for the municipality, therefore we own the building, we’ll continue to own the building far into future generations,” replied Jagelewski. “As an ownership it is our responsibility to cover that deficit.”

The director added that the benefit of collaborating with the YMCA is that they would be much more successful at eliminating that deficit, unlike what has happened with Centennial Pool which has seen an increasing operating deficit over the last ten years.

“The YMCA has far better expertise than a municipality does in order to eliminate that deficit. They run the program, the municipality continues to manage the facility, it needs to be a municipal facility,” concluded Jagelewski.

Mayor Charbonneau reiterated that the purpose of the resolution was for council to accept the business plan and direct staff to commence the development of a formal agreement with the YMCA that will be further reviewed by council before it is finalized.

Matheson argued that the amenities outlined in the business plan may not accurately reflect the wants of the community and suggested staff should research what today’s residents require.

Before the councillors voted, Mayor Charbonneau detailed the alternative option of not partnering with they YMCA. “Half a million dollar a year operating cost, which is an increase of about $250,000 a year, plus borrowing. We would have to borrow to build it, probably $7 million to borrow, about $400,000 in carrying... $700,000 in year one... 7 percent tax increase. It doesn’t get my vote,” decided the Mayor.

“The only way to get this done, to build it so that it exists and so we have the pool we need, in my view, is through this partnership with the YMCA,” Charbonneau stated.

With an almost unanimous vote, the recommendation was carried.

Finally, a recommendation was presented to council from the Director of Community Services for council to support the funding application for the proposed YMCA facility for the Investing in Canada’s Infrastructure Program. Staff anticipated a submission for a total capital cost of $27 million where 40 percent would be covered by federal funding and 33 percent covered by provincial funding, leaving $7.2 million for Saugeen Shores.

After some debate on amending the recommendation to not include the Community Complex, Mayor Charbonneau clarified, "it is not a decision to locate the YMCA at the community complex site, it’s a decision to submit an application with that as the primary location.”

The Vice Deputy Mayor pushed to amend the recommendation to omit the Community Complex as a preferred site and to read that council will decide on the location at the October 28 Council meeting.

Councillors voted and the amended recommendation was carried.


The presentation to council included a footprint of the proposed facility which incorporated a second ice pad and the new recreation and aquatic facility directly to the north of the existing arena.


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