Norfolk council ready to field proposals for arenas, halls

The future management of a number of community halls is up for discussion in Norfolk County. Among them is the historic town hall building in Vittoria. Monte Sonnenberg/Postmedia Network

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If you have a great idea for managing one of Norfolk’s arenas or a select number of community halls, now is the time to prepare your pitch.

Norfolk County has issued a revised timetable for filing applications. Submissions will be itemized and analyzed in a report to Norfolk council in December.

The first order of business, according to a memorandum from Shelley Darlington, Norfolk’s interim general manager of corporate services, is a pre-submission meeting Wednesday, Sept. 23, at 6:30 p.m. The meeting is optional. Participation is by phone or through Microsoft Teams due to the requirement for social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The deadline to sign up for a site tour of eligible facilities is the next day – Thursday, Sept. 24. Optional site tours will take place Wednesday, Sept. 30.

The deadline for filing questions about facilities and the application process is Wednesday, Oct. 7. Norfolk has set a deadline of Friday, Oct. 16 for tweaking the process it has set in motion.

The deadline for filing submissions is 2 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27. Norfolk council will review them at the Dec. 1 or Dec. 8 meeting of council.

In the area of arenas, in play are Talbot Gardens in Simcoe, the Port Dover and Area Arena, the Delhi Community Arena, the Langton Arena and the Tricenturena in Waterford.

Norfolk council approved the call-for-proposals during its 2020 budget deliberations in January. That same resolution took the arena at the Simcoe Recreation Centre out of the equation by re-purposing it as the new location of the Simcoe Seniors Centre, a decision council affirmed Aug. 18.

Halls in play include the Lions Community Centre in Courtland, the Scout Hall in Courtland, the Langton Community Hall, the Lions Community Centre in Port Dover, the Port Rowan Community Centre, the St. Williams Community Centre, the Vittoria and District Community Centre, Vittoria Town Hall, and the Lions Community Centre in Waterford.

The Delhi Friendship Centre was on the list initially. Staff removed it when they learned that the Friendship Centre also serves as the seniors centre in Delhi.

The South Walsingham Township Hall in Walsingham is also off the table due to a long-term lease with the Walsingham Women’s Institute. The former South Walsingham Township council entered into a 100-year lease with the Walsingham WI in 1967.

Also excluded is the Port Dover Kinsmen/Scout Hut, which is the inaugural site of the Port Dover Seniors Centre. The Charlotteville Community Centre in Walsh is also not part of the process. The future of Walsh Hall will be the subject of an upcoming report at Norfolk council.

The county has thrown the floor open to suggestions in an effort to reduce costs and stabilize county finances. Senior staff has emphasized on several occasions in recent weeks that the process is non-binding and that all participants – including council – can opt out at any time.

“Council voted unanimously to offer arenas and halls to community groups or other organizations during 2020 budget deliberations, with the goal of soliciting creative options that would address the long-term financial sustainability of these facilities while reducing the burden on local taxpayers,” the county says on its website under the heading “Call for submissions – arenas and halls.”

CAO Jason Burgess says a primary objective is to give council options for cost savings in case the municipality is confronted with another difficult budget deliberation in 2021.

Burgess says it may not be necessary to act on submissions, adding there could also be a call for a second round of proposals in 2021 to provide options for council’s budget deliberations in 2022.

Details on registering for the optional pre-consultation and the process to follow are available at . Bid details and documents are available at .