Council approves Avening Hall accessibility reno

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Clearview council has approved a tender for the accessibility renovation at Avening Community Centre.

The contract for an addition and renovations to facilitate accessibility, including the paving of the parking lot, has been awarded to IHC General Contracting Inc. in the amount of $1,352,370.

The project includes a fully accessible addition to the back (east side) of the hall, including a new accessible commercial kitchen, an elevator and gender neutral washrooms, while preserving the main hall and lower level bowling lanes.

Despite the tight timelines, seven contractors submitted base bids between $1.3 million and $1,975,000, with IHC General Contracting being the lowest and successful bidder.

The work is to start on April 17 and be done by Nov. 3.

Monday’s vote was unanimous but Deputy Mayor Paul Van Staveren said when looking at the next four halls he would like to compare the cost of renovations with new builds in order to protect constituents from “considerable” costs.

“These numbers are coming in high. I’m hearing the public talking to us about it and I respect that. I think going forward this council will be making some hard decisions. The stuff we’re doing right now, we’ve inherited from our previous council,” he said, although four members of the previous council are still at the table.

He said he supports the renovations understanding the heritage value of the buildings.

Director of parks and recreation Terry Vachon said when council initially supported the renovation of all six halls, new construction was considered as an option.

“There are some within our community who would say that these halls are too expensive, that this is too much money. I would counter, these halls were never about dollars and cents. If you want to bring the value of the halls down to dollars and cents, you might as well just shut them all right now…” said Avening Hall board chair Bill Hewitt during the public participation period at the outset of the meeting. “This is about allowing everybody in the township access to the hall as they are able.”

At its March 13 meeting, council awarded a contract for work at the Sunnidale Corners Community Centre to Domm Construction Limited in the amount of $890,800, with work expected to begin as early as April 3. The Sunnidale Corners project came in about $130,000 over budget and the Avening project came in under budget by the same amount.

“These renovations have been planned for many years. A reserve was established with an annual contribution of $250,000 in order to bring the halls into compliance with the AODA standards. The goal was to fund the first of the renovations from this reserve and then secure [financing] once the total project costs were obtained. The loan would replenish the reserve and the payments would then be funded from it,” reported Vachon.

The cost of both halls and the cost of the design work ($181,512) puts the Small Halls AODA Renovation Reserve in a deficit of -$323,147 as of 2024 (after the $250,000 allocation next year). The hope was to fund the first two of six potential renovation projects from the reserve, before entering into a debenturing plan as future decisions are made.

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