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Second floor in doubt for SHRC renovations

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SOUTH HURON – Council learned about a new and potentially major wrinkle in the long-discussed South Huron Rec Centre (SHRC) renovation project: according to chief administrative officer Dan Best, it appears that the facility cannot accommodate the addition of a second floor.

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And if an engineering review confirms that a second floor isn’t possible, that throws a wrench into the estimated $12.3-million renovation, which called for the addition of a second storey containing a 4,000 sq. ft. multi-purpose room.

Other plans for the renovation, which council approved at its June 7 meeting, include six new dressing rooms alongside the west side of the arena, lobby renovations, new dasher boards and glass in the arena, kitchen upgrades, a walking track and a gym.

At the July 19 council meeting, CAO Best updated council on the project. In his report he stated, “A preliminary review of the drawings of the existing facility at a staff level indicates that the current structure is not designed to account for a load of the second floor. Preliminary discussions with two engineering firms have indicated the same.”

Best recommended no further action until the issue of the second floor is addressed. He recommended the municipality embark on “a multi-phase engineering review” to determine whether or not the structure can support a second floor. The study would include a desktop review, a structural and geo-technical investigation, along with options and cost estimates.

Best estimated the work would have an upset cost limit of $25,000, and said an amendment to the 2021 municipal budget would be needed to proceed.

Council though, decided to defer the matter to its Aug. 23 meeting since two members of council were absent from the meeting.

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During the councillors’ comments portion of the meeting, Coun. Marissa Vaughan revisited the issue, and wondered if staff would continue to work on issues regarding the project such as refined costing. CAO Best replied that staff is “in stasis” at the moment. He said the possibility of a second floor is unknown at this time, and staff can’t move forward until a decision is made.

Best brought up the possibility of doing the project in phases: doing the dressing rooms and other arena work first, then the rest later.

In previous meetings, council opted to build a second floor for a community room because it was determined that “building up” would be cheaper than “building out.”  It was said that building out to the east side of the building would lead to the demolition of the Ag Building and probably the loss of a ball diamond. There would also be additional costs such as demolishing the Ag Building and the possible construction of another building for equipment storage.

But according to Best’s July 19 report to council, a second floor is now in doubt.

At a June 28 committee of the whole meeting, Coun. Ted Oke said if a second floor can’t be added, “that changes the whole scope of the discussion.”

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