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Grightmire Arena renovation back to drawing board

By Craig Campbell, Dundas Star News

Renovation of Dundas’ J.L. Grightmire Arena stalled nearly a year ago, when Hamilton Conservation Authority planners warned City of Hamilton staff about flooding issues.

Authority planners say they haven’t heard from the City since a site meeting and two office meetings last June, when the HCA informed the City the arena was susceptible to flooding within an Authority regulated floodplain next to Spencer Creek.

The $3.6-million renovation and expansion would require an HCA development permit to proceed, but the City has not submitted an application as it reworks the renovation plans.

“We expected we’d hear from them in due course. That hasn’t happened,” said Mike Stone, HCA manager of watershed planning services. “It’s been about a year since we met with the City. As far as we’re concerned its been quiet.”

City staff say they are currently working on the normal site plan application process, and expect to submit that site plan to city departments, and the HCA, in six to eight weeks. After comments are received, more detailed planning for Grightmire’s renovation will begin.

The new plan for Grightmire’s renovation will take floodproofing into consideration.

Originally targeted for completion in October 2012, the extensive project was rescheduled for a March 2014 completion target. After funding was denied by the federal government, the project was expected to move ahead immediately following the April 14-19 Allan Cup hockey championship hosted at Grightmire. The hope was apparently to complete part of the project before next hockey season.

But work has not yet started, and apparently can not begin until the Conservation Authority reviews the renovation plans and approves a permit.

“There are some flooding hazard concerns we’d have to deal with,” Stone said. “The south side of the building is susceptible to flooding.”

Stone was surprised to hear from a reporter asking about the Grightmire renovation, because it has been nearly a year since the idea had been discussed.

“It would need a permit. We haven’t heard from the city,” Stone said.

Marnie Cluckie, the city’s manager of strategic planning in facilities management and capital planning, said HCA staff noted Grightmire’s basement is currenly one foot above the floodplain, and the HCA had some concerns about the plan for an elevator.

“Certainaly flood proofing will have a budget impact,” Cluckie said, but added that impact won’t be clear until more planning takes place.

She said $2-million has been budgeted for the project so far. More funding will be requested in the 2015 capital budget process. Cluckie said ongoing site plan review should align with next year’s capital budget process.

According to Conservation Authority planning policy within the regulated area around Spencer Creek, no addition or renovation can be “more flood vulnerable than the existing structure, nor shall the flood vulnerability of the existing structure be increased as a result of the addition.”

The four-year-old idea to renovate and expand Grightmire was at one time supposed to be done prior to the Allan Cup, and later divided into several phases. It was to include a redesigned and expanded front entrance at the west end of the building; expanded main floor concession area; renovated public washrooms; renovated and expanded lower level dressing rooms; expanded main floor dressing rooms for the Dundas Blues Junior C hockey club and Dundas Real McCoys Senior AAA hockey club on the south side of the building; an elevator; and redevelopment of the second floor at the west end for a rink viewing area, Dundas Sports Wall of Fame and Hockeyville community room.

Stone was particularly concerned about the Zamboni entrance along the building’s south side, making the structure susceptible to flooding.

According to a Facilities Management and Capital Programs report from August 2013 – two months after city staff met with HCA staff – the total cost of the Grightmire project was expected to be $3.6-million, with $1-million budgeted for 2013.

In January, 2014 City staff said $1.1-million was approved in the 2013 capital budget and another $1-million approved in the 2014 capital budget.

The project was included under the city’s Arena Retrofits Program, which had a $1.2-million budget for 2014; $3.85-million for 2015, and projected budgets of $1.25-million each of the next eight years for a total of $10-million from 2016 to 2023.

Depending on what type of permits are required from the HCA, the City might incur more than $1,300 in fees.

 

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