Midland council excited by Rotary stage bandshell encore

The Rotary stage bandshell project is getting an encore from Midland council, who expressed excitement about its return from being cast as over budget during the previous meeting.

Following a $150,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation that was contingent upon being used before 2025, Midland council received a report in late May that the Little Lake Park stage reconstruction and bandshell project requests for proposals were largely over its allocated $380,000 budget.

While a staff request to reallocate capital funds to help complete the project was declined at the last meeting, several issues came up in the meeting to confuse the matter including ill-timing and miscommunication.

At the recent committee of the whole meeting, Mayor Bill Gordon addressed the option of the project’s cancellation, which he had informally spoken upon previously despite it not officially voted as approved.

“Perhaps through serendipity we never got to debate that option,” said Gordon, “so it was moved to this meeting and that gave (manager of procurement Kim Crewson) and her team a chance to revisit this RFP of the successful bidder and to see whether it was possible to keep this project alive – I know it got prematurely announced as dead – by putting it back within our means within our budget.”

Within the report, staff noted of the two initial requests for proposal that they had been working with the preferred bidder to try and reduce the scope of the project and make it within budget constraints.

“This project will be revived and it’s really thanks to the effort of (the procurement department) and, quite frankly, the openness of the successful bidder – who we don’t even know who it is yet,” said Gordon.

“For whoever they are, I’ll pre-thank you for being open to rejigging this to save the project. I think we’re all looking forward to the addition and our stairs; that’s the centerpiece that’s going to finish it off.

“We spoke briefly about the One World Music Festival; they’re hoping to use that, not just this year but in future years as our music in the park, there’s so many uses, we really need to fix this because (otherwise) the stage will be condemned soon and no one will be using it,” Gordon said.

Coun. Bill Meridis stated the motion to reject additional funding was clear in the previous meeting, but he was glad to see the matter return.

“Hopefully we can get this constructed at the approved budget that council set forth at budget time,” said Meredis. “Let’s get it done.”

Coun. Catherine MacDonald also expressed happiness at the return of the project, and asked staff if there would be any interruption to events currently scheduled at the stage for 2024; environment and infrastructure executive director John Thompson replied with an assurance from the contractor that progress could begin after the summer music season at the earliest.

A question on design submissions was commented on by both MacDonald and Gordon who had privately exchanged aesthetics they had found pleasing elsewhere, including a design Gordon had seen while attending the Ontario Association of Police Service Boards conference at the Blue Mountain Resort this spring. However, his request to staff was that the public become involved in the design decision process.

“The one thing we’re going to see differently,” said Gordon to the chamber attendees, “we’re going to be able to see the design rather than just me asking to approve something blind – and with any luck, you’ll also be able to see the designs too. If there’s two or three you can help us pick, just like you did with the playground equipment. At the end of the day it’s going to be in your park.”

With the discussion concluded, the committee of the whole approved sending staff back to work with the preferred proponent on a means to have the project within budget and completed before the end of 2024.

Music in the Park is hosted at the Rotary stage on Sundays in July and August, with performances beginning at 6 p.m. Further details are available on the festivals and events page of the town website.

The Little Lake Park stage and bandshell construction project updated report is available in the council agenda on the town of Midland website.

Council meetings are held every third Wednesday, and can be viewed on Rogers TV cable channel 53 when available, or through the livestream on the Rogers TV website. Archives of council meetings are available through Rogers TV and on the Town of Midland’s YouTube channel.

Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca