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Elliot Lake city councillors frustrated after latest arena update

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Elliot Lake city councillors appeared to be visibly frustrated on Monday night during a progress update on the Centennial Arena, which has been shuttered since the fall.

Staff was giving council the latest on the situation involving the beleaguered facility after engineers deemed the arena structurally unsafe last September.

The recommendation facing council was to approve the use of the negotiation method to sole source the design of structural repairs through Wood Research and Development Canada with a limit of $186,900.

What they got, however, was a report that outlined some of the delays and challenges staff has been facing.

One of the contractors informed staff in March they would be unable to proceed under the current agreement.

Council questioned staff about the timeline or lack thereof, and when they might see some costs associated with the project.

"I share your disappointment and frustration. The dude sat right in that TV screen and I asked him outright, 'Do you do this often? Do you share responsibilities with other companies,'" Mayor Andrew Wannan said to the city manager.

"And he assured us they do it all the time. To have this come back because of legal is a bit of a slap in the face."

Wannan also questioned staff about why council was just hearing about the delays involving the contractor now.

He was told by the manager involved, staff was in the process of bringing something concrete back to council so they could get further direction.

"It’s such an important part of Elliot Lake, as we saw with 'Kraft Hockeyville'. I mean not everybody cared, but I’d say 97 per cent at least did and we just, we just have to," acting manager of public works Bill Golding said.

"I’m just really reiterating what Mayor Wannan said. We just, whatever it takes, we have to get some construction going on there, not the shoring part, we need to say 'Oh they’re changing the beams.' We just gotta get this thing going."

Despite the delays, Golding told councillors he’s still hopeful they can make the deadline of having the arena ready by the 4th quarter of 2024.

New councillor Helen Lefebvre suggested Golding go back to the contractors involved and try to confirm or push them towards some hard targets to achieve.

"We got a lot of stuff we have to figure out. I’m trying to pull every trick I can to get things moving as fast as I can," Golding told the councillors.

Since installing the sensors in the building, he added, staff has been recording a fair bit of movement over the past month on the site.

"On March 8, they got no less than eight alarms that day," said Golding, who told councillors he would be very surprised if the footings to the arena had been checked five years ago.

He said he stands by his initial decision to have both contractors involved, he’s hoping a new project design agreement, which is expected in the coming weeks, will get things moving.

In his report, Golding writes repairing the facility is still the most prudent way to address the situation. 

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