By Trevor Busch
The Town of Taber is pushing forward with a request for proposals for new dressing rooms at the Taber Arena over the objections of administration.
At their Feb. 9 meeting, town council voted unanimously to continue with an RFP related to the construction of new dressing rooms for the Taber Arena.
Administration had recommended postponing distribution of the ice arena dressing rooms request for proposals (RFP) by three months, allowing time for other related items to be further developed, including a recreation master plan, performing arts centre, dry sports facility, and Taber and District Chamber of Commerce’s new facility initiative.
“Council has been very clear and given us very clear direction back in November and December through the budget process of the importance of moving forward on this project,” said community service director Rob Cressman. “At the same time, I also think you expect and rely on us to give you good information, and I believe there’s a lot of merit, in my mind, with holding off and seeing what comes with some of those other initiatives before you approach or start to do upgrades to the community centre, particularly surrounding the dressing rooms issue.”
Since December 2014, administration has been working on the ice arena dressing rooms RFP document based on council direction. Following a Jan. 29 recommendation by Chief Administrative Officer Greg Birch, administration suggested council re-consider the timing of the RFP document as the dressing rooms addition could be impacted by other community initiatives.
“We had a discussion the other day if this was still our best option, or should council just hold back,” said Birch. “We’re just throwing this out to you for consideration, because of some other things that are going on, you might want to give pause, and make sure you’re making the right decision here.”
At their Dec. 15, 2014 meeting, town council voted unanimously to direct administration to create a design to build to prepare an RFP (Request for Proposals) document, outlining the requirements for the building and the performance of the successful contractor.
“I’m actually in agreement with this, because if the chamber does move there’s quite a space of the building there available that we would have to find an alternative use for,” said Coun. Joe Strojwas. “Being that it was dressing rooms, it would only make sense. Four hundred and fifty thousand dollars for this, hypothetically if you gave the chamber a $250,000 donation, and used $200,000 to renovate, it would be win-win all the way around. And they (Taber and District Chamber of Commerce) are trying to move forward as soon as possible.”
RFP submissions will be reviewed by administration and a recommendation for tender award will be presented to council before any dollars will be spent on the project.
According to Coun. Randy Sparks, Taber Minor Hockey was under the impression new dressing rooms had already been approved for the Taber Arena facility.
“The individuals that were at this recreation master plan representing minor hockey, have been of the opinion all along that this was a done deal, that this dressing room would be built and ready to use for the next hockey season.”
“All of a sudden, and because of that, when they were asked to make their choices they never put dressing rooms down because they felt it was a done deal. They have been, as well as myself and other members of council, led to believe that this is going to be a done deal for next hockey season, because the RFP process has been put in place. Now it’s not, because all of sudden these other things take precedence over Taber Minor Hockey. Which it shouldn’t, because they’ve had this request in for a long time.”
A rough conceptual plan for the dressing rooms addition reflects an addition of approximately 2,375 square feet. Based on an estimated $200 per square foot construction cost, the project cost has been pegged at $475,000. The project is currently allocated $450,000 in the 2015 capital budget.
Sparks went on to note temporary solutions to the dressing room issue have been roundly rejected by Taber Minor Hockey.
“Taber Minor Hockey has said no to ATCO trailers, for a variety of reasons. I think the Taber Minor Hockey Association will be very upset when they hear that this RFP process has been put on hold. Why do we need to postpone it when we can see what it’s actually going to cost? The chamber of commerce building, as it is now, is far too far away from the ice surface to walk through a crowd of people after a hockey game, or between periods — to me, that’s a terrible option. I’m sure the swimming pool could have some opinions on what could be done with the chamber of commerce building.”
According to administration, since the original construction of the Taber Community Centre complex, the need of user groups for dressing rooms has increased as a result of increased demand from younger age groups, new user groups, female participants, and referees.
Sparks made reference to a new hockey program that could be implemented for Taber for the next hockey season.
“Taber Minor Hockey has been chosen by Hockey Alberta for a new ‘AA’ program that’s going on. They’ve made a bigger draw area with lesser teams. Taber Minor Hockey has been chosen to host one of these in town. They need more practice ice. With more practice ice means more dressing rooms. The Town of Taber will be forced in the very near future to have a dressing room for female hockey players. I think it would be wise for this council to really get this RFP thing in the works, to see what it’s going to cost, and then go from there.”
Taber Minor Hockey, added Sparks, should not continue to be told that other user groups in the community take precedence, considering the organization’s financial contributions.
“I would really hate to have the largest contributor of revenue to the Town of Taber for that arena being told again ‘Sorry, there’s other things in this town that take precedence’. They’ve waited long enough, it’s time that this was done, regardless of what’s in the works here.”
Coun. Jack Brewin supported the stance of Sparks, while adding receiving a quote on the project was of vital importance.
“I agree with most of what Councillor Sparks says. If were forced to use an ATCO trailer temporarily while we’re waiting to build something, we should get a quote on this so we can see what it costs, and that will help us make a decision further into the future, and if we so choose to build them, we can get on it right away.”