Arena breakdowns area cause for concern in Whitewater

·5 min read

Whitewater Region – The recent breakdowns at the Westmeath and Beachburg arenas has one councillor wondering about the future of recreation in the township.

Recreation Manager Jordan Durocher advised council at a recent meeting that grant money set aside for the septic system at the Beachburg Arena is going towards other repairs there as well as in Westmeath, if council agrees.

Prior to going into details, he reminded council that last year it operated only the Cobden arena and this year council wanted all three operational. The Astrolabe Arena in Cobden has ice now, while Beachburg and Westmeath are more than a month away from having ice.

“There have been some infrastructure issues,” Mr. Durocher said.

In Beachburg, a brine leak was discovered, which is a critical component for ice making, he said.

“The problem was fixed to ensure it would be ready for our users for rentals come this fall,” he advised. “Unfortunately, right after that, we did experience a water main break, somewhere in the first and second week of august. We were able to restore water at the front, but not at the back.”

A galvanized pipe is used to bring water into the facility and when it was dug up, Mr. Duroucher said it looked like a sprinkler system. While water was restored to the front of the arena, there was no water to the back, and it was discovered the main pipe splits and feeds water to the back, and the galvanized piping is failing on the outside of the building. A pipe line was run from the front to the back of the building, so ice could be made, he added.

In Westmeath, one of the two wells has failed. Mr. Durocher said MacKinnon Well Drilling tested the well and there’s not enough pressure or volume of water.

“We’ll likely have to drill a new well,” he said.

However, following more testing, there is the possibility of piping into one of the secondary wells, he said.

“We have to do a test to ensure there is enough pressure and gallons per minute to service the geothermal heat and air conditioning and the front of our building,” Mr. Durocher said. “We’ll know in about a week if we can tap in. If not, drilling will have to occur.”

These issues mean the Beachburg Arena isn’t expected to open until early October while the Westmeath Arena may be pushed back to late October, he said.

Councillor Neil Nicholson pointed out that November is one of the highest demands for new users due to the Silver Stick Hockey Tournament in Pembroke.

“That’s where we make most of our money, when the Silver Stick is on, because it pushes Pembroke users to our rink,” he said. “I encourage you to at least have a second rink ready to go for the first of November so we can take advantage of any potential revenue.”

Mayor Mike Moore asked about hockey in Renfrew County and specifically, the Whitewater Kings.

Mr. Durocher said that will soon be known because the government is releasing more guidelines relating to sports.

While these infrastructure issues can be resolved by using reserves and diverting grant money from the federal and provincial governments for the septic system problem in Beachburg, it means the septic issue won’t be resolved this year, he said.

Following a motion to do the repairs at the two arenas in the amount of $35,000 put forth by Reeve Cathy Regier, and seconded by Councillor Dave Mackay, Coun. Nicholson questioned if investments into these buildings are being kept track of through the asset management plan.

“I want to make sure, as we invest money in those buildings, it’s with a view of its expected life cycle,” he said. “We should know how much money we are putting into something and how long we want it to last for.

“We want to make sure we are making the right investments on behalf of our taxpayers.”

Chief Administrative Officer Robert Tremblay said while buildings are not in the first deadline for the Asset Management Plan program, staff is trying to include them.

“We can fine tune our knowledge and understanding of the operations and life cycle and improve as we go,” he said.

Coun. Nicholson also questioned how the septic system would be funded, since that grant money is now going towards other projects, and if it can be put on hold.

Mr. Tremblay said there is an ownership problem with the septic system, explaining the arena’s septic system is not only on its own property, but the Beachburg agricultural society’s property and a private neighbour’s property.

“We have to sort that out and we can’t get a permit for something we don’t own,” he said. “We think we’ll be fine, but it is an item that is pressing, but should be okay for this year as we sort out the legalities of that.”

Looking at the future of recreation in Whitewater Region, Councillor Chris Olmstead said he has been sitting at the council table for seven years and it seems like it’s always one step forward and two steps back with the facilities.

“We’ve done all we can,” he said.

The township took over responsibility of the three arenas in 2017, he said, and it’s time to start investing in recreation, whether it’s building up reserves or some sort of plan.

“We all agree that recreation is a huge priority for our township,” Coun. Olmstead said. “We have plans coming up soon, the asset management plan as Councillor Nicholson said. Are these things getting near their useful lifetime? We just replaced the ramp in Westmeath. It seems we’re just short all the time with what we need to do to these facilities.

“I’d really like to look at this. I would imagine we have zero reserves in recreation. We have to really start getting ahead.”

Coun. Olmstead said the township “is growing by leaps and bounds.” He noted that two months ago when he moved off his street in Cobden there were only two children, and now, there are eight; while in Beachburg recently he noted “it’s full of kids, 10 and under. I just couldn’t believe it was Beachburg

“We really have to start getting ahead on recreation,” he said.

Council approved the new expenditures for Westmeath and Beachburg arenas.

Connie Tabbert, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader

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