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Beeton Arena taken off endangered list

Posted November 14, 2017

A recommendation to close Beeton Arena in May 2019 as presented in the draft update to the Parks, Recreation, and Culture Master Plan, was stricken from the list last night at least until a firm plan is in place to replace it with a multi-use recreation centre.

The master plan, prepared by Colliers Project Leaders, was presented to council last night and deals with the Beeton Arena as follows:
"The existing Beeton arena is nearing the end of its service life in terms of operating and facility systems, but is even less desirable in terms of meeting today’s expectations for facilities. Usage has also declined. The arena should be closed in an orderly manner, aiming for closure in May 2019 after the next two hockey seasons, allowing time for the ice using organizations to work with Town staff and others in ensuring ice needs are met at the other Town ice facilities. The building should be demolished to make way for a redeveloped community recreation facility that creates a connection to Main Street and the Beeton Fairgrounds, with facility amenities that contribute to the concept of a 'community hub.' The site should include a public space that can be the focus for community activities. The scope of the recreation facility will be determined by later studies and site analysis, but could include a community hall, program rooms (possibly developed in conjunction with the Library), physical linkage to the Library, and a skate park."
Ward 6 councillor Richard Norcross, who was supported in the council gallery last night by representative of Beeton's (Fund for A new community centre in Beeton) FAB, the BAA, and downtown merchants, said the release of the master plan recommendation created "tremendous concern."

"It's a draft plan, I know, but when the plan came out there was tremendous concern from extremely dedicated members of our community that have spent over a decade raising funds," said Mr. Norcross. "The largest concern is the report says in 2019 the facility would be decommissioned and that we could possibly go three or four years without a facility, and I want to send a message to our community tonight, who have all worked so hard and have come here tonight, that there's going to be a lot of discussion, but to assure everybody what council's intention is and to give a direct solid input to the consultant tonight."

His motion was supported unanimously by councillors committing the Town not to close the facility "until a suitable replacement community centre has been designed and approved by the Town of New Tecumseth; which will have approved construction start date and financing has been identified and secured; and that will create the security that we need down in the south to let them know that we're very serious about improving our recreation facilities, but we will not let anybody in our community go without and not have a community centre because it's our social fabric."

Ray Lisk, a founding member and chair of FAB, reminded councillors that previous councils had committed to move forward with the new recreation centre, and they were committed to raising $500,000 toward its estimated cost of $12 million.

Mr. Lisk called the master plan recommendation to replace Beeton Arena by 2025 with a community hall, and skate park, "hard to swallow" and "unacceptable." The loss of ice in Beeton would be supplemented with a second ice pad at Tottenham Arena.

"For the last year, our group has been working to identify unmet needs that can be met at a new Beeton facility," he said, noting they've visited facilities in Bradford, Bolton, and Whitby, to determine "what things may be working in other facilities that we can bring to New Tecumseth that haven't been met yet."

The other recommendation to get a rough reception included ceasing the operation of the Tottenham Conservation Area as a campground because "while a beautiful area of open space, is not well used locally and many residents are not even aware of it."

Ward 8 councillor Chris Ross suggested the Town should market the conservation area to raise its profile, and revenue opportunities.

Other highlights of the master plan include :
  • A new indoor swimming pool will be warranted by about 2022. The indoor pool should be planned as an addition to the New Tecumseth Recreation Centre (NTRC);
  • A new indoor ice surface will be required by about 2024. It would be ideal to have the ice surface at the Tottenham Community and Fitness Centre (TCFC) to create a twin-pad facility;
  • There should be one primary event space to serve the Town, ideally located as part of the new Administration Centre (such as on the Gibson Diamond at PPG Park, if a new diamond were created to replace it). The new community recreation facility in Beeton, and the Tottenham Conservation Area could be secondary event spaces and will also serve to ensure that each settlement area has a location to host local events.
 

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All stories, unless otherwise noted,
by Tony Veltri

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