Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Is Another Petch House Debate Brewing?

Posted by auroracitizen on February 20, 2010

Council is faced with a decision about what to do with the seats in the aging Aurora Community Centre arena. The catalyst for this decision appears to be the funding available from Recreational Infrasructure Canada (RinC) — to the tune of $80,000. The Town portion would be $40,000 based on staff reports.

So what’s the issue? Well it seems some Councillors are concerned about the historic significance of the seating. Really!

Is this setting up to become another Petch House debacle?

Surely this Council isn’t planning to dithering around for a number of years until 1) the seats die a natural death, 2) they spend money on studies, and 3) the grant dollars are no longer available, before we are required to replace the seat for the full $120,000 — or more!

What’s the deal about wooden seats. Who decided everything older than 40 years was historically significant and should be saved? Is that why the smell in the hockey change rooms is so potent — they don’t want to get rid of the smell for historical significance.

Council should demonstrate some of the same care and concern for an elder Councillor they seem to have for old rotting homes and wooden seats. 🙂

17 Responses to “Is Another Petch House Debate Brewing?”

  1. evelyn buck said

    Here’s another thought. It’s not mine.

    When the day starts the arena dressing rooms are not smelly. As the day progresses, the dressing rooms become ever more pungent by the hour.

    Why is that I wonder?

    One doesn’t have to be a hockey player to get it.

    Unwashed gear might be a clue.

    Better ventilation might improve things but it wont clear it out altogether.

    I’ve often thought,if it weren’t for the female of the species, most males would still be living in caves. And liking it.

  2. evelyn buck said

    Rhe grant approved to replace the arena seats was two thirds of the cost. One third from the federal government ,one third from the province and the final third from the town.We applied for it. Got it, and decided not to use it. No we can’t use it for something else. . How much more do you need to know.
    The Bruce says if Al Downey was worth his salt he would have got on to this a long time ago. How do you know he didn’t. It’s not his job to make the applivations. How do you know he didn’t make recommendations that were turned down. Don’tyou understand yet who is calling all the shots?. I understand two thirds of the baseball diamond would have qualified. It was recommended and rejected by the new treasurer.
    The diamond is costing almost a million
    Lois Brown said it would qualify. Our new town treasurer said it would not.
    The recommendation on the arena seats even after the grant was approved was sufficiently convoluted as well.
    From my perspective, iy’s interesting to read some of the comments on this blog.
    I’m a councillor. I know stuff first hand.. I give facts, like on the arena seats, and the discussion continues as if I hadn’t spoken.
    What is that?

    • Robert the Bruce said

      Evelyn, You are correct – the RinC program was quite specific regarding the use of funds. You are also correct in the specifics of the funding breakdown. How do I know if Mr Downey got on this a long time ago? I don’t. I would have EXPECTED that he would – did he?

      This is a program that had a short application window (MAY of 2008!). It had specific requirements to get approval. It has specific rules as to how the funds are used – you can’t say you will do X and end up doing Y. How is it that this becomes an issue in February 2009 and everyone is saying we should use RinC money?

      Who’s job is it to make applications for these grants? I know a Recreation Director in another municipality who had a distinct hand in their application process.

      Lois Brown’s office was involved in a number of RinC applications – if she said that something would qualify I would have sided with her – no disrespect to the Treasurer, but go with who knows. The applications were not all that complex. Look at some of the private volunteer orgaizations in the area that got money – if they figured it out……

      How convoluted should this be? It should not. I have sat in Newmarket council chambers over the last few months – I cannot beleive how differently they run the Town and their meetings. It is a pleasure to see how thing should be run.


    • evelyn buck said

      He did indeed make input. Let me tell you about our parks manager Jim Tree. He grew up in the town.
      He has worked for the town since a teenager. He is solid, sensible and reliable. Throughout his career He has taken advantage of courses to upgrade his skills . He is invited to conferences to make presentations on the basis of his expertise on parks management and urban forestry.
      He is what every municipality or employer should aspire to in recognition that people are the greatest asset of any organisation.We should nurture them, encourage them and respect them.
      He consults with Lois Brown Frank Klees and whoever else he needs to talk to, to get the best for the town
      His knowledge of the town,lands within the town’s boundaries, sports fields and buildings is unmatched. He is the appropriate reference for Mr. Downey, Leisure Services Director or any one else with enough sense to consult with him.
      He argued for the baseball diamond to be included in the applications made for grant funds available.
      He lives on Nisbet Drive where two beautiful street trees will be cut down to make room for a concrete pad and for the street to be moved over a metre to accommodate a single resident’s antipathy for having a sidewalk placed in its proper alignment on the property line.
      Carol Clarke the helpful secretary who for years has sat at the the side of the mucrophone and podium and overhead in the council chamber is the latest employee to take her leave to work for York Region..

  3. evelyn buck said

    The town applied for the grant to replace the seating.
    The garnt was approved.
    Council voted not to take up the grant.
    Tha mayor claims people are nostalgicaly conecetd to the old seats.

    The town could have applied under the same grant program for two-thirds of the cost of the baseball diamond.

    We didn’t.

    And about all the complaints about conditions at the arena. Has anybody bothered to make complaint in writing about these problems. There is a process. Complaining in a blog isn’t it.

    • Richard Johnson said

      But telling your elected representatives about the real things that need to be fixed should help… even if you don’t have the time or inclination to try and jump through the town’s hoops.

  4. Richard Johnson said

    If big money is going to be spent on the ACC then cleaning the clogged drains is the first place to start. The town may also want to correct the heating system in the dressing rooms, which kicks in at full blast in September. The taps in the public washrooms run only hot water, which does not strike me as very environmentally friendly and you can’t even fill team water bottles from these sinks. The sound system might also be in need of an update as well.

    For all they are used, the existing seats are fine as far as I can see, therefore unless the new infrastructure spending says the funds must specifically be spent on seats, there are clearly other places to put the money to better use.

    With any luck at all, a few staff reports will allow Council to figure out what really needs to be fixed beyond council itself, which is a given at this stage.

    • Anon Anon said

      Wow, I’m going to have to take a tour of the Community Centre. It seems nothing has changed in the old rink since my Sunday night roller-skating days of several decades ago….

    • Richgard Johnson said

      BREAKING NEWS: The front page of today’s Auroran notes that Council has decided to fix the drains in the dressing rooms at the ACC instead of replacing the “historical” seats at huge expense. It only apparently took a few staff reports and the good fortune provided by a change in grant policy for Council to figure out how fix the drains instead of tossing money down them ! Who knows, this could be the dawning of a whole new day at Aurora Council, but don’t hold your breath.

  5. Frodo said

    Another example on staff recomendations not being taken.

    Parts for the ACC seats have to be custom made since they are not available according to staff. The real answer is the company / person who is making custom parts for the seats at with huge margins. Are we keeping an Aurora resident in business? Is this person the same person who came to council and complained about the bidding process? If it is, you now know the real answer.

    • someone who loves this town more than Anonymous said

      I never thought about it until Frodo mentioned it, but that is a likely conclusion.

      Perhaps someone wants to alert town staff of some old Theatre seating from the Danforth Music Hall that is being thrown to the curb:

      If they want it for parts they better act fast because these things go quick!

  6. Robert the Bruce said

    As someone who is familiar with RinC, I must say that the RinC ship has long since sailed.

    RinC applications were due in May of last year. The money was awarded in late June 2009 and must be used by March 31, 2011. RinC funds are 33 1/3 Federal, 33 1/3 Provincial and 33 1/3 applicant.

    I know of a number of local RinC projects. If anyone at the Town did not know about the RinC program and it’s timeline, it’s too bad but it’s too late.


    • Robert the Bruce said

      Further to my comment, I supply the link to the RinC website…..

      If Mr. Downey – the only Director on staff that was there when this council began – is worth his salt, he should have been proposing the use of RinC a long time ago. Each application also must specifically say what the project is.

      This whole story smells to me – discussing RinC for the seats now is window dressing on another issue.


  7. Tim the Enchanter said

    Does anybody know how this grant works?
    Mayor Morris says that some of the grant money is being used to make other arena improvements but not to replace crappy old seats.
    The historical significance angle is a somewhat amusing, yet slight departure from reality; we’re talking splintered old bits of plywood here, not hand-carved cathedral pews brought to Canada by the original settlers.
    The point it is we don’t seem to be able to get the full story on this grant.

    So far I understand that it would pay 80K of the estimated 120K to replace the seats.
    Is the entire grant 80K?
    Can we spend the 80K on anything we want?
    If not the seats, are we spending the 80K on something else?
    Can we bank the 80K and spend it later or does it have an expiry date?
    If we decide to replace the seats next year do we have to pay the entire 120K ourselves?
    Has anyone written a properly researched item on this subject or do I have to file a FOI request?

    What a funny little town.

    and BTW – What a funny little town part 2

    If you’re running in the next election and you don’t want my vote, make sure you talk about spending my tax dollars on the Petch Pile.
    Saving this array of moldy lumber is a job for historical societies. if they feel the Pile is a historical treasure they can pony up the cash necessary for preservation.
    When they have the money then perhaps they approach the Town or a sympathetic developer about the possibility of cadging a bit of sod to park it on.
    Otherwise this item NEVER, EVER should go anywhere near council.

  8. PArkview 7 said

    Re: Aurora and heritage:


  9. David Heard said

    I have been a citizen of Aurora for almost 5 decades and have enjoyed both the use of the arena from ice and seats .

    I fondly remember the likes of Mike Kitchen and others who made the N.H.L. after playing for our Tigers .

    Those where the days .

    It was however the product on the ice and the chants from “Harry Sarafin “(Hope I spelled it right )of “Here we go “that made the night .

    It is the people who make our community and not the wood and steel .

    It is great to have old buildings but then sometimes we have to tweek them to keep others coming back .

    The Maple Leaf Gardens is gone and the seats are in some peoples homes .

    So I bid $1. on the one from Row 15 seat 11 .

    I think that might be the one I tried to catch a puck when I was 11 years old and Brad Rhiness (again sorry Brad if I muffed it )
    took a shot and silly me reached .

    I loved hockey but failed physics .

    And failed name spelling .

    I vote for new seats and some new N.H.L. players from Aurora .

    Live the dream guys so we can watch you carry the cup home to Aurora …..again .

  10. Anna said

    Good point. You are right we cannot just make everything historical.
    I laugh at your comment here: ‘ Is that why the smell in the hockey change rooms is so potent — they don’t want to get rid of the smell for historical significance.’ – lol. Good one.

    Anna [Living in Aurora Blogger]

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