by Alicia K. Gosselin
Press staff

MORRISBURG – Construction to replace the ice slab at the Morrisburg Arena is officially underway by the same contractors who revamped recreational facilities in both Winchester and Chesterville.

South Dundas politicians approved a bid of $795,000 for the project submitted by Guy Saumure and Sons Construction at Tues., May 16’s council meeting, despite the tender coming in over the municipality’s $630,000 budget.

Options to finance the extra dollars will come back to council next month, and according to recreation director Ben Macpherson, there are also potential savings to be had.

“One example is potential reuse of the sub-base and some of the insulation that exists in the slab already,” said Macpherson.

The municipality was awarded a grant of $315,000 through the Ontario Trillium Foundation earlier this year to help cover the cost of the project, with the other half of funds being contributed by South Dundas.

The terms of the grant state that the money must be spent by next March and any funds that are not used by that time must be forfeited back to the province.

That leaves a tight window for the municipality to finish the project before the ice season, which runs from the beginning of September until the end of March every year.

According to a recreation report, the ice rink needs to be done by August to have ice ready for September, otherwise the municipality risks losing hockey teams and figure skating clubs to other arenas.

But South Dundas staff aren’t taking any chances when it comes to dealing with the backlash of not meeting the tight deadline for the project.

Recreation director Ben Macpherson added a discussion item to council’s agenda, suggesting that the municipality come up with a “proactive plan” in case the ice slab is not complete in time.

“I just wanted to get [council] thinking about how they’re going to handle any potential delays in the ice season or even cancellation of the season for user groups,” Macpherson told the Winchester Press. “I wanted them to go on record to say, here’s what we’re going to do if things go sideways so that we’re being proactive, but also so no one gets thrown under the bus in terms of handling the situation. We need to be prepared for every possibility.”

Macpherson was tasked with coming up with a policy, which will be put on the table Tues., June 6.

The substantial completion date for the project, as outlined in the tender, is Thurs., Aug. 31 – the ice service expected to be ready at that time – while the full completion date is Sat., Sept. 30.