YARMOUTH, N.S. – The Town of Yarmouth says it wants to talk with the other municipal units in Yarmouth County about the direction of a possible Mariners Centre expansion and/or other recreational needs.
At its July 12 council meeting, Yarmouth Mayor Pam Mood made a motion – unanimously approved by council – stating that the mayor, deputy mayor and CAO “be tasked with inviting our partners in the Municipality of Argyle and the Municipality of Yarmouth to take part in a conversation in an effort to take next steps with regard to the Mariners Centre and/or Aquatics Centre and/or other recreational needs of our community.”
A couple of years ago the three municipal units – at a January 2016 joint meeting – identified a Mariners Centre expansion as the third top regional priority behind the Yarmouth Airport and the ferry terminal. In making the July 12 motion the mayor noted there has been one key step missing since the completion of the Mariners Centre feasibility report.
“The next step that has not been taken by any of the three partners is to meet and discuss what we are willing to commit to,” said Mayor Mood. “To this end, the Town of Yarmouth is taking the next steps which include the motion made by council tonight tasking myself, the deputy mayor and CAO to engage our partners in conversation regarding next steps as clearly outlined in the consultant’s final report.”
It was noted from the report these decisions include, but are not limited to:
• determining if the project is a priority that should be pursued at this time;
• determining if an expansion will include the curling club, which would represent a major change in the (municipalities) current funding practices, the report notes;
• determining if the municipalities wish to pursue a partnership with the YMCA.
“These steps have never been taken and of course more steps will come from these,” said Mayor Mood. “We hope to set up a meeting as soon as possible.”
The conclusion section of the feasibility study carried out in 2017 it reads: “The needs assessment carried out in 2015 and this feasibility study indicate the expansion of the Mariners Centre to include replacement for both the existing YMCA and the curling club would significantly improve and enhance recreational services in Yarmouth and surrounding area.”
The feasibility study states a preliminary estimate of capital costs of a Mariners Centre expansion as it has so far been described is in the area of $30.3 million, of which roughly $15.4 million would be for the YMCA component of the expansion, $6.7 million for the curling club and $8.2 million for additional and upgraded Mariners Centre space – if it were determined all of this is how an expansion would move forward.
It's been stated in the past that a $30 million financial commitment would be broken down to $10 million from the federal government, $10 million from the provincial government and $10 million that would be a combination of contributions from the three municipal units along with community fundraising.
The town says it has already started including funding in future capital budgets that includes $1,980,000 towards an aquatic facility; $132,000 for curling needs and $540,000 towards a Mariners Center expansion in whatever form that takes.
Work on pursuing a potential Mariners Centre expansion has been underway for years and has included stakeholder and public consultations through meetings and surveys, along with the various studies. Consultant fees of $100,00 have been paid for the studies that have been carried out, with funding for that provided by the three municipal units and the province.
At a joint meeting of the town of Yarmouth and municipalities of Yarmouth and Argyle in October 2017, the municipal units were told the groundwork for a proposed Mariners Centre expansion that would create a new home for the Yarmouth YMCA and the Yarmouth Curling Club had been completed. But those who have carried out the work were asking at that time: Is this still a regional priority?
The question was being asked, in large part, due to the Town of Yarmouth’s decision to proceed with an arts and culture centre on Collins Street, which the town has identified as its number one priority.
Following a presentation made by representatives of the YMCA during that October 2017 joint council meeting there wasn’t a specific answer provided at that time in terms of when or if a potential expansion project could or would be moving forward.
At council’s July 12 meeting, Mayor Mood noted that on top of regional priorities, municipal units also set out their own individual priorities and projects, but she said this doesn't preclude regional projects from happening.
“For example, Argyle is building a new administration building, the Municipality of Yarmouth is putting funds into high-speed internet, and the town is working towards an arts and culture centre. Our project or those of the other municipalities have never replaced the Mariners Centre discussion and the town is able and willing to work on more than one project,” Mood said. “I hope this clarifies the town’s position and we look forward to continuing with both regional and local projects to ensure the strongest community for our citizens. We are excited for next steps.”
When it comes to regional priorities identified by the three units, in recent months there has been some movement on the ferry terminal front given the availability of potential federal and provincial infrastructure money. The town and municipality of Yarmouth have both committed $1.2 million towards a phase of needed work at the terminal facility with the Municipality of Argyle committing $300,000. An application will be made for infrastructure funding based on these commitments.