“If you build it, they will come.”
That’s the motto Huron Shores Optimist Club president Bruce Moulton pitched to members of Plympton-Wyoming council recently during a presentation detailing plans for an outdoor, multi-purpose facility in Camlachie.
“We want to build it,” Moulton said of the proposed $1.6 million venue that includes an outdoor community ice rink. “The question is, will you come along for the journey and help us strengthen the community and provide this multipurpose facility that the residents greatly deserve?”
The project — first proposed a few years ago but sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic — is designated to complement the area in the village that includes a library, museum, community centre, cenotaph, and ball diamonds.
“The whole idea of it Is that it will be part of that ‘hub,’” said Moulton, who pointed to Camlachie’s growing population, especially young families.
“What COVID did teach us, is that recreation and leisure activities are very important, as well as community and socialization,” he added. “So we want to build a multi-purpose, multi-seasonal facility that can be used by people of all ages and all abilities.”
The proposal was first ‘approved in principle’ at an April 2022 council meeting, where staff were directed to work with the Optimist Club to develop a plan for council’s consideration in the 2023 municipal budget.
Moulton’s Sept. 27 presentation included updated plans for the facility, including artist renderings, fundraising, cost estimates and other information.
The venue will boast a covered, 60×120 concrete slab that will serve as a refrigerated ice pad from December through March; modelled after what’s known as the The Century 21 Rink in Sault Ste. Marie.
It will be converted during the remainder of the year for a variety of uses, including pickle ball, basketball and ball hockey courts, community gatherings, summer markets, weddings and more.
Also included are change rooms, washrooms, concession and viewing areas.
“What we would be asking for is $1 million, and we would pay that back in the next ten years,” Moulton said of the estimated $1.6 million project, adding that $200,000 is needed to add a required accessible washroom facility at that location. Operating costs are estimated at between $60,000 and $70,000 a year.
The committee plans to hit the ground running with fundraising for the remaining $400,000 — but they’re just waiting for the green-light from council.
“We will not put a shovel in the ground until we’ve raised that $400,000,” he said.
They’ve partnered with Wellington Builders, with plans to begin construction during the fall and winter months, so not to interfere with use of the nearby ball diamonds.
“The completed facility will be turned over to the Town to operate for the benefit of the community,” the proposal states.
“I’ve got to say, you and your team have done a great job pulling this together,” mayor Gary Atkinson said at the meeting. “I know council has some questions… we’re going to sit down with our staff and you guys and try to get those answers back and forth so we know what we’ve got, for both sides to communicate on.”
“As a resident I would love to turn-key this right now,” said Coun. Alex Boughen. “But as a councillor of course, we’ve got to have more discussions… but I do look forward to the ongoing partnership.”
Coun. Mike Vasey added, “I do have more questions than answers at this point…it’s bigger and more ambitious than I thought. Kudos to you guys, I hope this works.”