Glencoe arena renos expands opportunities

·2 min read

It will not be fully open to the public until early January, but most of the work is set to be done on Glencoe arena’s transformation into something resembling brand new by Dec. 6.

That is according to Southwest Middlesex director of operations Greg Storms, who has had to adjust to the supply chain issues affecting everything around the world. An example was choosing to get a dehumidifier that was not the one originally wanted because it can arrive 36 weeks earlier.

And while the federal and provincial governments are chipping in the original $2 million they promised in 2019 when the original total estimate was $2.9 million, the price tag has ballooned several times to the now-budgeted $6.3 million. That means local taxpayers will be paying back a 25-year loan of over $4 million plus interest.

Councillors Martin Vink and Mike Sholdice voted against approving the new price and scope of renovations when council approved them in April.

Replacing the 50-year-old arena with a new one was estimated to be at least $12 million. The upgrades are expected to last 25 years.

Not having an arena was not going to happen on Storms’ watch, he said.

“Closing it would have just destroyed this community,” said Storms.

“If there’s one building in the community that the majority of your taxpayers get to, it’s the arena.”

He added that people are using the arena much more, and that having something in Glencoe rather than needing to travel to other towns is important for having an affordable and accessible winter recreation option.

“I always think of the kids that go public skating. They don’t get a chance to do anything else but go public skating, or to play some shinny hockey,” said Storms.

“Stick and puck is super popular in this area… you see tons of kids,” interjected recreation coordinator Ashley Parker.

Storms said a big part of the plan is to get that dehumidifier and proper air conditioning to allow plenty of summer use in the arena. That could include things like ball hockey, indoor pickleball, roller skating and hosting special events.

He pointed to his work in Watford, where over 600 kids and 12 teams of adults played ball hockey.

“If you don’t do that (use the arena in summer), it just ends up being a glorified garage to store stuff on,” said Storms.

The upstairs could is also expected to host things like cooking classes in the newly renovated kitchen, shuffleboard, and yoga.

Along with the kitchen and dehumidifier, upgrades include an exterior facelift, plumbing, electrical, audio, digital connections, and universal access to dressing rooms and washrooms.

“In the end, I believe people are going to love what they see,” said Storms.

Chris Gareau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Middlesex Banner

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