A pre-recorded plea from legendary curling local Glenn Howard might have helped speed up repairs to a legendary local institution.
Council heard a deputation from Stu Spiers, president of the Penetanguishene Curling Club, during a recent regular meeting, which provided insight into roughly $150,000 in capital repairs and equipment for the aging building.
Broken down, the $150,000 cost provided by Spiers listed: two dehumidifiers amounting to $80,500; a header system at $61,500; and a heater at $8,000.
Spiers held up a representation of more than 300 signed letters of support during the deputation.
“We are here tonight,” Spiers began, “because the Team Howard Community Centre (THCC) that was built by community volunteers 50 years ago, and is a town-owned asset managed by volunteers, urgently requires capital repairs and equipment to remain viable.”
Reference was also made to the various social clubs and health benefits the club has provided to residents in its past and present.
The urgency for the April 30 deadline, according to Spiers, was due to an upcoming labour cost increase, which is anticipated to impact the heater quote by an additional 25 per cent.
“This represents a one-and-a-half year payback based on an operational expense for this facility of $100,000. The life extension is estimated at 15-to-20 years, and is therefore an outstanding bridge to a new recreational facility in the future,” Spiers stated.
A pre-recorded message from Glenn Howard was played, made prior to his team heading to Lethbridge, Alberta as Ontario representatives in the 2022 Tim Hortons Brier.
“(The THCC) has become an absolute asset for the town of Penetanguishene,” said Howard. “I can truly tell you that it has one of the best reputations in the province, and more so even in the country. I’ve been around to curling clubs all over the country, and they talk about the Penetanguishene Curling Club. It is really, legitimately, country-wide known.”
Howard also praised the club’s involvement with the community and the sport within the country, restating the necessity of the institution.
“And I’m asking – actually no, I’m pleading – with the town to come up with the funds to help us get to the levels that we need to to make this a viable club again,” said Howard passionately.
With that, council pushed off with brooms in hand and began sweeping a fast-track for options.
It was noted by Deputy Mayor Anita Dubeau that a staff report with information would be required before any considerations could take place, but with the next meeting of council on April 13, timelines were constrained.
CAO Jeff Lees noted that the usual process would take two months under normal procedural conditions.
During the committee of the whole later in the evening, Coun. George Vadeboncoeur proposed that possible funding could be found within an unallotted reserve from the 2022 municipal modernization funding budget item; an amount of $199,968 which could have the club request put on hold pending staff recommendations and only with council approval.
Council approved making the issue a referral item for the April 13 meeting.
Coun. Jessica Klug inquired to tenders for the items Spiers provided, citing procurement bylaws that needed to be upheld.
Lees responded that use of the municipal provider would be a possibility, to be examined further for the staff report.
Coun. Brian Cummings shared to council that every effort had been made prior to the deputation.
“As a council rep to the Penetanguishene Curling Club, I must share with council that Stu and his team have been doing everything they can to try and rectify and find answers to these problems,” Cummings explained. “The club has spent pretty close to $200,000 in the last couple of years, and we still haven’t come up with a solution for the problem that exists today.”
Council directed staff to provide a report and recommendations for the April 13 regular meeting next month.
As part of an ongoing project, Penetanguishene is exploring the possibility of a new $49-million multi-use rec facility in the town, which could host a new curling arena in its magnitude.
During last year’s presentation, a report noted that the Penetanguishene Memorial Community Centre had exceeded its lifespan and would not be recommended as an option to maintain along with the PCC at a cost of $7 million with annual operating costs averaging $280,000 per year, due to the aging infrastructure.
The slideshow deputation and representative letters of support for the Penetanguishene Curling Club can be located on the agenda page of the Town of Penetanguishene website.
Archives of council meetings are located on the Town of Penetanguishene YouTube channel.