Renfrew -- Jon Pole, the Renfrew man who was first introduced to radio operations before the age of 10 years when his father, Jamie, purchased CKOB-AM in 1981, and in 2004 became the co-founder of his own radio station, myFM in Renfrew, is thrilled the new 76,500-square-foot expansion of the town’s Ma-Te-Way Activity Centre will be named the myFM Centre.
When the newly renovated Ma-Te-way Activity Centre swings open its doors in early 2023, visitors and users of the multi-use recreational and cultural complex will immediately notice the building not only has a new name, but the centre will be a combination of reflections of its past and recognition of current and future trends that helped define the Town of Renfrew.
The expansion went from a concept based on some drawings to a modern, fully accessible, energy efficient complex, built with $16.1 million in funding from all three levels of government and complete with a name.
The addition, more than five years in the planning and construction, will combine aspects of sports, business, culture and social gathering areas. Highlighting the new myFM Centre will be local businesses and an Off Reserve Indigenous Cultural Centre. In addition to these new tenants, several other local businesses and organizations have pledged financial support over the next 10 years.
Mr. Pole, who is also president of mbc (My Broadcasting Company) and oversees the operation of 14 radio stations stretching from Pembroke to Grand Bend, said he is excited for the local radio station to eventually move into the new office within the new facility.
He said the renaming of the building is something that would never have been imagined in 2004, but today the name reflects the new complex. Both are built with the needs of the local population and building on the strength of those who come in contact with each entity.
“When you look at the heart of the Ottawa Valley, we have radio stations in Pembroke and Arnprior as well, but we started here in Renfrew,” he said. “This building is going to play a big role not only to Renfrew but to the entire Ottawa Valley who will find themselves here.”
Along with the $16.1 million provided by the federal, provincial and municipal funding, the town of Renfrew’s Recreation Department have spent the last few years seeking partnerships to reflect the interests of all parts of the area.
Individual rooms and areas within the facility have been sponsored as a means to keep the costs at a minimum for local ratepayers. These include McGrimmon Holdings, sponsoring the fitness centre; Kelly Homes, in Admaston/Bromley Township, are the primary donors for the main lobby and the town’s recreation fundraising committee is proud to be the sponsors of the community hall.
Other major sponsors include Ontario Power Generation (multipurpose room), Renfrew Professional Fire Fighters Association (ice resurfacer), Renfrew Home Hardware Building Centre (gymnasium), Bonnechere Excavating Inc. (expansion rink) and Deslaurier Custom Cabinets Inc. (current rink).
Throughout the construction phase, Kevin Hill, the town’s Recreation Director, kept council apprised of all construction costs and at times he was the bearer of bad news in terms of cost over-runs. During an oral report to council in early February, he said the overrun was $794,000, forcing a delay in the completion date and pushing it back from October 2022 to December 31, 2022.
At the time, he explained the sudden inflationary costs and delays in the global supply chain were the primary reasons for the delay.
“The arena portion was to be completed but the cold weather made that difficult, and there have been five change events/orders which has added costs to the project,” Mr. Hill said at the time. “With the new schedule provided, the ideal completion date has been changed due to a number of factors, and is now projected to be New Year’s Eve, 2022.”
Since then, he worked with staff of Buttcon Ltd., the Ottawa firm contracted to build the 76,500-square-foot expansion, and he has been able to knock down that overrun quite a bit.
When the expansion was first debated, the primary component of the structure included a second ice pad and the exclusion of an indoor aquatic centre. After a series of studies and questionnaires to determine the viability of some type of pool, it was decided the second ice pad would be the largest aspect.
When completed, the myFM Centre will include an NHL-sized ice surface, an elevated walking track, fitness centre, regulation-sized gymnasium, dance/yoga studio, multipurpose rooms, youth drop-in centre and administrative office; the existing centre includes the current rink, dressing rooms and the NHA/NHL Birthplace Museum.
Another issue that caused some rumblings in the community was the removal of the tennis club and courts from their original 40+ year location to a separate part of the Ma-Te-Way grounds near the Millennium Trail. If things remain on schedule, tennis enthusiasts will be playing on one of the new six tennis courts.
Despite the supply chain issues, Buttcon president Michael Mercier is pleased with the current rate of construction.
“Obviously rainy weather was a roadblock early on in the construction phase,” he said. “However, we are all extremely pleased with how things are moving along despite that. We just got steel in from PEI, which is a major milestone in itself.”
Councillor Tom Sidney, chair of the parks and recreation committee since the first designs for expansion were presented to council and the community, acknowledged the efforts of the recreation staff for their hard work.
“The department has always taken pride in its strong community partnerships,” he said. “We are super excited and proud to be taking the Ma-Te-Way expansion to a highly unique and professional level with our new tenants that bring great services to the residents of Renfrew and area.”
Bruce McIntyre, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader