Council spooked by Morrisburg Arena structural report, hurriedly approves pillar fixes in desperate bid to keep Trillium grant

The Morrisburg Arena

Nelson Zandbergen
Nation Valley News

MORRISBURG — The Morrisburg Arena needs an estimated $75,000 in structural pillar repairs before jackhammers rip out the concrete floor as part of a planned overhaul of the ice-surface chilling system.

And that work seriously threatens a delay that could cost the Municipality of South Dundas its 50 percent Trillium grant — awarded earlier this year — on the slab project.

With an air of desperation permeating their Tuesday night meeting, South Dundas Council hurriedly approved a sole-sourced contract to repair and clad the pillars as soon as possible — in the hope of commencing the main project soon enough to remain eligible for the $315,000 Trillium grant.

Recreation and Facilities Director Ben Macpherson reluctantly advised council to walk away from the grant, suggesting there just wasn’t enough time to strengthen the pillars and still meet Trillium’s strict completion deadline on the slab. But a majority on council couldn’t stomach that prospect.

Located in the exterior concrete-block walls, the 20 pillars are structurally sound but not robust enough to withstand the shaking as the old concrete floor is jackhammered out, said Macpherson, recently apprised of the situation by arena project manager Barry Bryan Associates.

“This is an emergency —  $315,000!” exclaimed Deputy Mayor Jim Locke, during the tortured discussion over the potential loss of the grant. Discussion also centred on avoiding any delay to Morrisburg’s 2017-18 ice season — by initiating the slab project as soon as possible, preceded by the getting the pillars done even faster.

And that meant saving two weeks by appointing Porter Historical Restorations Inc. to start work immediately, rather than wait on a tendering process.

“I’m not in favour of tendering this project if we’re going to push to try and get it done,” said Councillor Archie Mellon. “I’m not usually in favour of sole-sourcing, but God, we’re scratching for minutes here. I don’t think we can afford two weeks.”

In a 3-2 vote, council handed the job to the Williamstown firm.

Although he had urged his colleagues to “give it the college try” on finishing the entire project by deadline, to keep the provincial grant, sole-sourcing didn’t meet with Councillor Marc St. Pierre’s approval. He and Councillor Bill Ewing both voted against the resolution.

Bolstering the pillar columns should take the contractor about three weeks.

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