By Trevor Busch
Lingering questions surrounding the design for the town’s arena dressing room addition has prompted town council to issue a change order to include a second referee dressing room to the scope of the project.
At a special meeting of council on June 11, town council voted unanimously (6-0) to proceed a change order for a second referee change room, with funds to be allocated from capital reserves, and allocates a 15 per cent contingency to the arena dressing room project.
Mayor Henk De Vleiger declared a pecuniary interest and left council chambers for the duration of the discussion and vote.
At their May 25 meeting, town council originally awarded the arena dressing room addition construction contract to Venture Holdings for the stipulated price of $439,700.
In later discussion with Venture’s representative, administration enquired as to the process going forward should there be a request to change the design of the addition to include two referee change rooms as opposed to the current design of one referee change room.
Concerns of council over the design centered on the proposal of a partitioned cubicle for females inside one referee dressing room, and if this would be an adequate alternative to the original two referee dressing rooms in the first tender which had been over budget.
Following a more detailed description of what this proposal would actually look like, Coun. Randy Sparks was initially amenable to the partitioned design, despite relating the objections of the Taber Recreation Board to the idea.
“If it’s a stationary thing that can’t be moved, maybe that’s a different story,” said Sparks. “Their understanding was that a partition would be something movable, or something you can look overtop or underneath.”
Jody Ginther, a senior referee in Taber, was available at the special meeting to provide input on the proposal of one referee dressing room rather than the two that were originally contemplated.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not disagreeing with anything the rec board commented, about trying to make it look like we’re cheaping out, or whatever,” said Ginther. “In the officiating world, I think there’s some acceptance of mixed crews working in a lot of hockey, right from small people up to university and international women’s hockey. Men and females are integrated all the time. One of the things I can confidently say, when either a single person, either a female or a male, their big push is to get so they’re covered well enough that it’s not going to be an issue being in a room with the other sex.”
During the first tendering process for the project that was completed in April but was ultimately rejected by council, Venture Holdings submitted a detailed design that included two referee rooms, but the cost for the design with two referee rooms was $475,000 which exceeded the town’s budgeted allotment of $450,000. In the follow up tender process, the bid document was amended in order to keep the project within budget.
A change order for the project including a second referee room would cost an estimated increase to the project total of $35,300, representing the difference between the two proposals submitted by Venture Holdings in each of the separate tender processes ($439,700 to $475,000).
“It’s not like they have to sit segregated the whole time,” said Ginther. “They definitely need to be apart when they’re stripping down and getting clothed back up. The cubicle idea that Aline (Holmen, recreation director) was referring to, I think that’s a pretty good way to offset the need for two rooms. If it’s made in such a way that someone can go in there and confidently — for lack of a better term — lock themselves away, I think that could be part of the solution. In my experience with female officials, there’s a dialogue all the time about who’s going in first, who’s going to do this, who’s going to do that. It’s almost — I’ll call it accepted. They know and we know what has to be done on a fairly regular basis. And it’s typically only one person, whether it’s a female or a male.”
In the request for decision on June 11, administration indicated they believe the cost of an additional change room exceeds the benefit, and that other alternatives for consideration, such as assigning other dressing rooms or utilizing a cubicle, could be effective.
Ginther went on to note that segregated change rooms for male and female referees are by no means the accepted standard.
“We have female officials that work here all the time,” said Ginther. “I have them in my own crew. Segregated dressing rooms are not the norm yet. There isn’t a rink in Lethbridge yet that has segregated dressing rooms. The new one will, the new twin surface that’s going in on the west side. But as of right now, I know of no rink in Lethbridge that has any segregated dressing room, especially for female officials.”
When it was detemined that access to the shower in the room, as indicated by the design, would be through the cubicle, members of council found this to be an unacceptable solution.
“We’re spending close to half a million dollars here, and we’re still going to have one dressing room for males and females,” said Coun. Joe Strojwas. “I would like to see this go back to Venture, or do a change order rather than re-tender, and add segregated dressing rooms with a segregated shower, so someone can have some privacy and change.”
Sparks appeared to agree.
“I think if there’s a change order, if that’s what council decides, I think it’s a small price to pay for having it done right.”
Ginther also admitted if this was how the room design with a cubicle was supposed to function, he would not be in favour of that design element.
Coun. Laura Ross-Giroux was also in favour of making a change and adding a second dressing room for referees rather than implementing the original design.
“Seeing now how the shower works, I cannot agree with that, going through that cubicle into the shower? That is just unworkable, totally.”