Timmins city council is leaning towards building an Aquatic Centre at an estimated $48.4-million dollar cost.

The estimate is extremely rough at this point, but one of the big missing pieces in this option is a diving pool.  It, however, would house amenities like a squash/pickle ball court and a field house.

(Screenshot from city council package.)
Council’s preferred option for Aquatic Centre design. (Screenshot from city council package.)

Councillor Pat Bamford likes the option, and points out seniors don’t want to wait for a school gym to open up in the evening to do activities.  He says with the field house, it can become a place for regular use and creates a good environment.

“It creates a whole range of recreational activities, so that it appeals to a broad sector of the community,” Bamford says, “So there’s a variety of things that can happen in the one location.  This was the idea behind having a multi-purpose recreational facility for the city.”

Councillor Andrew Marks agreed, but added he would like to see the cost of having the field house as a separate entity on the property.

Of course, the detractors continued to make their opinions heard that this project should at least be pushed back.

“You have to live within your means,” said Councillor Joe Campbell, who also mentioned the impending closure of Kidd Operations in 2021.

Dubeau agreed with the sentiment, though he added new mines are developing in the local area.

He says the city should hold off until they have a better idea what financial impact those mines will have on the city once they’re in operation.

Councillor Mike Doody countered by saying many mines have closed in the past and it hasn’t hindered the city from making progress by building infrastructure.

Mayor Steve Black chimed in by making a telling comparison with the oversight on costs on the Mattagami Wastewater Plant, an $80-million dollar plant that was initially priced in at over $50-million.

He says it’s constantly brought up when discussing major projects.

“What was one of the major things brought up with that plant?” the Mayor asked council, “That we proceeded with a funding application with a conceptual design and didn’t do enough engineering homework before applying for the funding.”

“Now, we’re trying to get to the detailed design of a major construction project, and we’re being criticized for wanting to go to the detailed design before we apply for funding.  It just doesn’t matter what angle (or) what aspect (that comes) here, there’s a criticism to it.”

He acknowledges there are those in the community who have an issue with the proposed centre because it impacts them in some way.

However, Black adds it’s council’s job to do what’s best for the community and can’t rely on “pockets of people who don’t use the facilities, who are generally against putting in capital dollars for that.”

“It’s our job to build the City of Timmins going forward, it’s our job to make it an attractive place for businesses to come and want to invest in our community.  And I’ve said it many times before, if you’re afraid to invest in your own community, how can you convince others that it’s a good place to invest?”

Dubeau also mentioned his stance that the current facility could be renovated at a much lower cost.

Black says council’s been told expansion of the current infrastructure is possible, but not cost-effective when considering what council wants to add to the facility.

Nonetheless, council voted in favour of moving to detailed design work on the above option.

The final vote was 6-2, with Dubeau and Campbell against it.  Councillor Noella Rinaldo was absent.

CLICK HERE for the full discussion, under Item 4G.  You can also view the city’s administrative report on the options presented last week HERE.

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