What the candidates say about: The Pretty River Sports Dome – Part 2

Joe Gardhouse did eventually give an interesting answer to this question below.


Deb Doherty
This is yet another example of the waste that the current Council either actively, or passively promulgates. I would bend over backwards to avoid the dismantling of this facility. I am certain that if the political will was there, that some arrangement could be brokered relative to the charges still owed, and the facility put to good use. Ironically the amount owed is roughly equivalent to the $200k separate bike lane at Sunset Point, another contentious investment. In a perfect world, with unlimited resources, maybe not a bad idea, but in our world with limited resources, a frivolity.

Rich Crouch
Rather than the seemingly adversarial approach that was taken between the school and the municipality, a potential partnership opportunity of sorts could have been explored between the two before the dome was ever purchased perhaps as part of the efforts of the Central Park committee. Ultimately the County’s development charge was perhaps the final nail in the coffin for this facility and even the most creative user arrangement between Pretty River Academy and the Town may not have overcome this significant financial obstacle. The end result is, we spent $12 to $13 million of the two Sprung facilities that first of all is not “ a tax neutral solution” and secondly they do not fully meet the needs of the community. This is the legacy we have been left with and as a duly elected member of Council I would vow to never let such an instance like this take place in the future. Perhaps moving forward the next or a future Council can use some creativity to make the best of this unfortunate situation, the point is we shouldn’t have to.

Essentially the Pretty River dome is just another element of the recreational facility boondoggle that transpired as the result of the Sprung purchases. First let me refer once again to a quote that was made in the current Council’s “Half Time” newsletter that was distributed in our Collus bills early last year. “Developed a tax-neutral solution to build much needed, new recreational facilities through the use of Sprung technologies.” Obviously not all of the community’s needs were met with the Sprung purchase. Other than Pretty River’s dome, there is no facility for indoor soccer or similar activities that would require such a venue. We also have no facility that includes an indoor track where seniors could go to walk during the inclement weather some of whom had used the old Blue Mountain mall.

Keith Hull
First, if possible it is important to take the politics out of this issue. Since day one the issues surrounding the school and Dome have been politically charged which is unfortunate. The school plays a role within the community and hopefully that will continue for years to come. Secondly, I have not officially been informed of this new development regarding the Dome from anyone at Town hall or the school. Therefore, I think it is premature to comment on this latest development.

What I will say is that space within gymnasiums both in the public and Catholic school system play a key role in providing space for many third party user groups. The Dome is no different and offers a year-round facility that is not available anywhere else in Collingwood or the immediate surrounding areas. Therefore, to lose this asset would be a blow to the third party groups currently using the facility and would impact groups like the Collingwood United soccer club who are now able to offer year-round programming for both youth and adults.

I have met with representatives from the school in the past. I believe there is business plan and case that can be made that would justify supporting the facility to ensure access for community leagues and groups for years to come. However, it must be a plan that is fair and can be agreed upon by the various parties including the Municipality, the schools administration, the financial backers of the school and the owner of the Dome. If what is being reported is true, it will take leadership from all sides to create an equitable and lasting partnership.

Brian Saunderson (Candidate for Deputy Mayor)
As a proponent of recreation and sport for all ages, the loss a facility like the PRA Dome is significant especially in our community in which recreation and sport infrastructure for many, many user groups is an issue. The awarding of the initial grant was controversial and, as I recall, stemmed from the manner in which the grant application was endorsed by Town staff without the apparent knowledge or direction of Council. This controversy made the dome a political issue from the outset, continued to haunt the dome throughout its short life and overshadowed the many benefits to our community and the many user groups who used it.

The closure of the dome highlights a number of critical issues. Firstly, it highlights the lack of an overall long term recreation and sport plan for our community that takes a high level look at the needs of our community and how best to meet those needs now and in the future. Council’s refusal to properly explore a single unified facility concept and funding options also demonstrates this lack of responsible and sustainable long term planning. Secondly, it highlights Council’s failure to recognize the importance of sport and recreation for the overall health and vitality of our community and residents of all ages. It is an established and long-standing fact that for every dollar invested in sport and recreation, we save eleven dollars in future health care costs. Thirdly, it highlights the failure of Council to recognize the value of partnering and working cooperatively with private organizations to help serve the needs of our residents. Council’s refusal to work with the YMCA on the recreation facilities is another example of this failure. Communities such as Innisfil, Wasaga Beach, Owen Sound, Bracebridge, London and Komoka-Kilworth are just some examples of communities that have partnered with the YMCA in Ontario and that list continues to grow in Ontario and across Canada. Finally, the closure highlights the need for open and transparent processes in how decisions are made by our municipal government. Had the decision to endorse the PRA grant application been conducted in an open and transparent way, it is likely that the political fallout that haunted the dome could have been avoided and that a more positive and cooperative environment would have allowed for a more favourable outcome for all.
I was the Fundraising Chair for the 2012 Ontario Games which generated a surplus of approximately $115,000. The legacy fund we established with the surplus is funding a Sport Development Plan which, I hope, will bring together the sport leaders and user groups in our community to start a discussion about the importance of sport and recreation in our community and the need for a long term planning process. I would like very much to be part of that discussion as we move forward.

Joe Gardhouse
Sorry this took so long..
I’ve decided not to give you a complete answer on this … except to say it’s one of the issues being investigated by the OPP.
My comments would need to be censored, so I choose to give my comments at a later date.
Thanks For asking..

Bob Madigan – Did not respond to the question

Note: I am not including incumbents that I don’t intend to support in October in this question and answer process. You have had at least 3 1/2 years to see what they are all about. I have also not included Cam Ecclestone because he has ignored any questions or input that I have asked of him since he declared (strange for someone running for political office). You can call me petty and undemocratic if you wish but it’s


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