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Wednesday, July 8, 2020
Connecting Our Communities

Wellesley arena to remain open thanks to temporary solution

Council approves $250,000 for rubber membrane that will shore up the facility’s roof while a permanent solution is explored

First it’ll get a new roof system, then some ice. After that, the Wellesley arena will be open for the upcoming season, as Wellesley council last week voted reverse course on plans to shutter the facility.

The township will spend $250,000 to install a rubber membrane over the roof, extending its lifespan while council makes plan for a replacement arena to be build down the road.

There was little discussion but plenty of applause August 1 as councillors met in Crosshill for a special meeting to discuss the temporary measures. Presented with a way to seal the leaky roof that has been deemed a safety hazard, council was quick to approve the move, which will save user groups from having to scramble to find alternatives for the fast-approaching season.

While the plan was ultimately approved, councillors did have some concerns. Coun. Peter van der Maas, for instance, asked if the rubber membrane would mean additional weight on the roof that would perhaps add to the risk of a collapse.

“The concern with the weight is the snow load,” clarified recreation services director Danny Roth. “The additional weight we would get from the snow load and the insulation being saturated within the building.

“This rubber membrane is going to seal that roof, so we’re not going to get that additional saturation in the insulation on the interior side of the roof.”

The work will get underway early September and cost the township approximately $245,512. Funding will come from the municipality’s reserve funds.

Toronto-based company Semple Gooder Roofing was selected for the project from among three bidders, submitting the lowest-cost option that also allowed solar panels to remain on the building, as well as having a 10-year manufacturer’s warranty.

The project should take three to four weeks to complete depending on the weather, with work expected to wrap up in early October.

The reprieve follows a decision earlier in the summer to close the arena after an engineer’s report revealed that water leaking through the roof had waterlogged insulation such that, combined with a heavy snow load, there was a risk the roof could fall in.

The planned closure left many user groups such as the Wellesley Applejacks and Twin Centre Minor Hockey Association scrambling for ice time elsewhere.

“Recreation opportunities must be available to all. Since the announcement at the end of June that the Wellesley arena would be closed for this winter season, a number of groups have struggled to figure out other options when told they would not have ice availability – this should never happen,” David Dienesch, president of Twin Centre Minor Hockey, told councillors during last week’s special meeting.

“Twin Centre Minor Hockey Association supports the direction to repair the Wellesley arena roof to ensure the continued use of the facility for all the user groups and community members.”

While it provides a huge relief to user groups, it is a short-term fix. The Wellesley arena was built in 1977 and has faced issues with the roof since 2002. A variety of repairs have been carried out over the years since. Other issues cited as the arena floor and lack of insulation. The building will need structural reviews annually.

On July 9, council voted to move forward with looking into a new arena, allocating up to $150,000 in federal gas tax revenue to design and engineer a new structure. The location of the new facility has yet to be decided, though there would be more options moving to a new parkland space rather than at the existing site.

Along with a location, the township will be looking at securing federal and provincial funding – typ ically a third each – to go along with its own financing and community fundraising.

With a short-term solution in place, there’s less rushing involved in building a new arena.

“It provides the Township of Wellesley Recreation Centre Committee with time to properly work through the plans and development of the new facility,” said committee member Jeff Quint.

“It puts an insurance plan in place in case funding that we’re actively seeking for in the fall isn’t obtained, it creates an opportunity to create some space, a runway we can work with, so we can design the proper complex that meets the needs of all the user groups.”

User groups of the arena have had ongoing discussions with Mayor Joe Nowak and Roth, contributing ideas for the new arena, such as a pool, storage space, a seniors’ centre, and youth centre.

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