Monday, January 12, 2009

Haldimand "Dunnville We Will Build Our Arena"

In April of 2008 I attended a public meeting held at the Dunnville Arena to here the consultants report. There were approximately 225 residents that attended this meeting. Councillor Boyko, Ricker and Bartlett were also in attendance. The night prior to this meeting in Dunnville, a public meeting was held in Cayuga to here the consultants report, this meeting was attended by approximatley 25 residents.

One of the most important issues that surround the decisions of building a new arena is the communities financial support. The community would have to raise probably a million dollars. Now I am just throwing out that figure as I can't quite remember what it is.

As I read this article a few things are a bit disturbing. The first of which is the lack of communciation between the council member for Dunnville and the residents. The council member feels that he has not been informed by the residents on this issue, and the residents feel that the council member does not support their concerns. It is obvious that there is history here.

So lets look back in time; The residents of Dunnville were actively working on the building of a major sports complex. It seems that the county at the time was in favour. There were a few blips along the way, but this is very common for a project this big. A plan was in place, a location was in place, and then along comes the amalgamation. So it seems that some are putting the blame on the Provincial government (council, staff?). Hogwash!

Then the unthinkable happens for the 10 years of hard work for many residents of Dunnville, news of a new arena for Caledonia! I don't really know the history behind why this happened, or whether the residents of Caledonia had a committee and had worked just as hard for a new arena for 10 years as the residents of Dunnville had.

But one thing I know is that amalgamation is not the reason why Dunnville was put aside!

Actually I need to make a correction on that statement. At the time of amalgamation a Municipality had to have a population of 50,000 people. Haldimand had a population of 41,000 people. So who in there right mind let this happen? Haldimand is a made up of many smaller communities, all with the same needs, a vast network of roads and bridges, and it was only a matter of time that a financial crisis would bite us on the ass!.

I would also like to add that when the amalgamation took place, all bylaws and decisions by council did not "disappear"! In fact it was of the utmost importance that the decisions of prior councils in each community were protected. So to blame this on amalgamation is as I said "hogwash"! If I am wrong I am sure I will be corrected!

Another disturbing thing I read in this article was that Councillor Boyko had tried on a few occasions to get the committee in Dunnville to meet with the committee in Caledonia in regards to "how to fundraise"! Councillor Boyko makes it look like Dunnville did not want anyones help. I can certainly tell you why they did not meet, and I am sure that Boyko new this one as well:

"The residents of Dunnville know how to Fundraise"!

So now we are well into January of 2009. And no closer to an answer from staff or council as to how this is going to go for Dunnville or Cayuga. Make no mistake, there will be only "one" new arena!

So I would ask, will Councillor Boyko succeed? Will he have the support of his colleagues for a new arena for Dunnville? Well one only needs to look at the last 5 years or so to find this answer.

Or will Councillor Sloat succeed for a new arena in Cayuga? Again one only needs to look at the last 5 years to see who has influenced who at the council table.

Arena group petition seeks support for Ramsey Drive location
Posted 1 day ago

The common denominator is the need for a new arena in Dunnville but how that will be met is becoming a point of contention for the citizen group, the town's councillor and some municipal employees.

For Dave Dunham and Mike Ramsey of the Dunnville Arena and Sports Project group, the decision is already made. Dunnville needs a new arena and based on a former Town of Dunnville council motion, it will be built on Ramsey Drive property.

Coun. Lorne Boyko said he took a proactive approach when a facility audit determined over $1 million worth of repairs and replacements were needed in both the Memorial arena and the Cayuga arena.

To measure interest in a campaign for a new Dunnville arena, he invited representatives from every ice user group to a meeting. Later he handed the adhoc committee over to citizens.

His intention was to position Dunnville as the obvious choice for a new arena. Haldimand County community services general manager Hugh Hanly said the county faces making a decision about the two significant county assets.

Both were identified with significant capital needs and that's why a consultant was hired to study them and their future, he noted.

Next month he will present council with a report that will include analysis of consultant recommendations and the municipality's ability to pay.

"We are not looking at a complex," he stated. "In my opinion as general manager, that Maple Creek Leisureplex was dealt with when council went ahead with the Frank A. Marshall industrial park."

Unknown to him, the pursuit of an arena complex in that area was intensifying. This week, the Dunnville arena group launched a petition asking if residents support siting the new arena on Ramsey Drive.

A response form is located on Page A6 of this edition of The Chronicle and can be dropped off at the newspaper office, Frank Ramsey's Mens Wear and Buckners Source for Sports.
Arena group members will also take their petition door to door.

Ramsey pointed out that the crowd at a recent public meeting unanimously supported the Ramsey Drive location. Without a location how does the group sell the idea for financial support, he questioned.

While council members and some county employees feel fundraising can proceed prior to site identification, Al Billyard disagreed. He is waiting to find out where it will be built before he makes his donation.

In the mean time, he wanted to see more support from Boyko who he described as articulate.

"It's too bad he can't be articulate in a positive manner on this arena build," said Billyard.

Dunham said the group's hands are tied on fundraising. "I can't go to a major organization or write a form letter asking for a substantial donation when I can't tell them where this thing will go," he said.

"It's all about marketing and promotion," added Ramsey.

Both Dunham and Ramsey were upset about some recent comments made by Boyko at a council meeting. They pointed out that the Maple Creek Leisureplex concept, created more than 10 years ago, was scaled down to one-third of its original proposal. The focus was now a twin pad arena and a recreation centre.

Some individuals are willing to enter into financially feasible land negotiations for privately owned land in the Frank A. Marshall business park, Dunham said this week.

He said Boyko knew about these proposals but did not make it clear to his council colleagues that the group was no longer pursuing county-owned industrial lands for the arena site.

Later Hanly pointed out that land acquisitions were dealt with confidentially in closed sessions. He said he advised the group to keep any offers of land confidential.

Right now, any land selection is premature and he and chief administrative officer Don Boyle talked to the group about this, "At this point, we don't even know if we're going to build anything," said Hanly.

In an answer on fundraising, he said he did not think the leisureplex group was told to stop soliciting donations.

Before any decision is made on arena construction, Dunham and Ramsey wanted a demographic study completed to forecast population growth in the two towns. With a population of 11,000, Dunnville was the logical choice for the first new facility, they contend.

Community support exists, contrary to comments Boyko made, said Dunham.

At a council meeting and in an interview, Boyko said people are not coming up to him to express concern or support for the arena. Usually he receives lots of comments on issues that are considered 'hot topics', he added.

Dunham listed some donations to illustrate support and said more groups and individuals are waiting in the wings for a site to be named. Last year St. Paul Anglican Church donated $3,000, a woman made a donation in honour of her grandson and a family took up a collection to raise $120. A local band contributed $100 and $534.50 was collected in the Sobeys Every Penny Counts box and another $173 at Johnny Rottens.

Several tickets are still available for the Florida Panthers and Maple Leafs hockey game. They can be purchased at Ramsey's Mens Wear, Buckners Source for Sports and the arena snack bar and from minor hockey executive members.

People who advocated construction of a Dunnville sports complex and are now seeking a new arena have learned from the past, said Ramsey.

"We will use every means legally possible to get this done," he said.

This can include going to court, securing an injunction or appealing to the Ontario Municipal Board, he added.

He and Dunham said Haldimand County has walked away from approval of the Maple Creek Leisureplex in 1999. A former Town of Dunnville council motion supported the project's concept plan and required that a management and supervision plan be developed.

Now the county is pitting Cayuga against Dunnville and the result may be civil war, noted Ramsey.

Aware that the group based their Ramsey Drive preference on a past council motion, Boyko said he did not consider concept plan approval as approval for the project. It was subject to a management plan, he noted.

As a member of the advisory committee in place at that time, he said the plan got stuck on a couple of issues.

Dunnville Junior C Terriers owner Jim Russ is a member of the arena group and was involved in earlier recreation complex committees. He said it's time for a new arena and if the current building fails it will take three to five years to replace it.

At a recent county trail meeting, Russ said a consultant exhibited aerial photographs and traced trails in Dunnville, ending in the industrial park where the leisureplex was proposed. Eric Hunter also attended the meeting and saw the reference to the sport complex lands.

Hanly said this site was just where the Dunnville trails ended in the Pyle wood lot.

In an interview, Hunter also said Dunnville is oozing with talented hockey players who need more ice time to develop to their potential. The former coach pointed out that sports groups have pushed for years for a new arena for youth.

Last week, both Dunham and Ramsey accused Boyko of failing to represent residents on the arena issue and of not being involved.

The councillor took great exception to their comments. He said he told the two men that he was willing to meet with them and their group anytime. All they had to do was invite him but they have yet to do so, Boyko said. Without the group entering into communication with their councillor, he stated that he could not force himself on them.

As a result, Boyko had no knowledge of group activities other than what he has read in the newspaper. He also had no idea that the group was seeking a smaller portion of land.

Last year, he contacted Ralph Luimes who was a key participant in fundraising for the Caledonia twin pad arena. Boyko contacted Ramsey and Dunham to suggest meeting with Luimes in order to pick up some ideas. The councillor said he received no response to the proposed meeting.

In June, the county invited both the Dunnville and Cayuga arena groups to a meeting where Caledonia arena fundraisers made a thorough presentation filled with great ideas, said Boyko. Neither Dunham nor Ramsey attended, he added.

From his point of view, some arena supporters have adopted a hostile an adversarial approach. This should be a partnership between the county and the group, Boyko pointed out.

"At the end of the day, I'm going to have to sell this on their behalf (to council). If an adversarial approach remains in place, how can I hope to be successful," said Boyko. "I'm more than pleased to help them on this. If they're successful, I'm successful."

The future of the town's arena is based in the past. After the Town of Dunnville culture and recreation plan was completed in 1993, a sports advisory committee was struck. Two years later, members recommended purchase of 60 acres including 20 purchased acres and 20 acres leased from Grandview Lodge.

After negotiations with the former Region of Haldimand Norfolk and the province failed, the committee suggested the town purchase the Dixon property where there would be room for new fairgrounds. Another study was conducted on the complex's feasibility but the region favoured industrial development on the land in question.

The project went back and forth between several proposals and failures to move forward due to industrial plans, flood plain problems and other issues.

In 1997, the Maple Creek Leisureplex idea was revisited to accommodate community recreation on Dixon lands north of the proposed Ramsey Drive extensions and on the former town dump (closed in 1992) and the Pyle woods. A year later work began on the soccer park.

That year. the first public meeting was held on the leisureplex which was to have an arena, track, fairgrounds and art centre.

In 1999, the Town of Dunnville council gave formal approval to the leisureplex concept plan subject to site plan control. A management plan was required.

The ducks were in a row. Restructuring blew them out of the water.

In 1999, the Ontario government announced the mandated restructuring of the former region. Before Christmas, legislation set out how that would happen. In 2000, the transition board's provincial appointees were put in place to create two new counties. Basically, councils became lame ducks and very little happened in the local municipal field.

Capital investment decisions were set aside to be turned over to the new Haldimand County council, said Hanly.

So the leisureplex concept languished.

When the new county came into being in 2001, its first council decided a new Caledonia arena was its recreation priority and would be the project submitted into a shared provincial and federal grant program.

Dunham and others questioned this direction because replacement was not necessary in Caledonia. They wondered why Boyko and Coun. Don Ricker did not fight for the development of the Maple Creek Leisureplex concept.

Eventually, the group was told to wait for the Haldimand County recreation master plan which took a few years to complete.

In the plan, consultants stated that the municipality had enough arenas for its population and enough ball diamonds. As a result, the leisureplex was not required, noted Hanly.

But the group soldiered on. Three years ago, members protested zoning changes for the county-owned industrial park and the wiping out of recreation concepts on Ramsey Drive. Even so, recreational uses are permitted in industrial zones. Recently former Dunnville mayor Bob Blake raised the example of Waterloo where playing fields are located by industrial plants.

Article ID# 1379859


  1. It looks like Dunnville is getting the shaft again. Councillor Sloat will not support a new arena for Dunnville, he already made that clear, and as for the Mayor, she also made it clear that there is no arena for Dunnville.

  2. The common denominator is really Lorne Boyko. He has been representing(???) Dunnville for most of the past 25 or so years as a councillor with the town, region or county. And something that hasn’t happened over all those years, even though he has sat on advisory committees, read countless studies and served on council, a new arena has not been built. For Mr. Boyko to suggest that he is “going to have to sell this (the need for an arena in Dunnville) to council” and that “If an adversarial approach remains in place, how can I hope to be successful” is just so much poppycock. He has not made anything happen in the last 25 years! Yet, Mr. Boyko seems to think that the people who are after a new arena should come grovelling to him and he will make things happen!
    Mr. Boyko suggested that no one has come to ask for his help. It’s because no one has any faith or trust in him. He helped start a committee to get discussions going on an arena, but soon left, saying he had a conflict of interest. In his view, he can’t be involved in a group that is seeking to sway the opinions of a council that he sits on. Does he think we are all fools? Does he not represent the people who voted for him? It was not the people of Caledonia, Cayuga or Hagersville that put him on council the last time around. Clearly, if anyone is needed to carry the message for a new arena in Dunnville, it won’t be Mr. Boyko leading the charge for this community. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the reality. It is the people of this community who need to make their voices heard in through the media and in council chambers. We can’t put any faith in the claims of someone who will not work on behalf of its citizens. Dunnville needs an arena. If there is anything that can makes things happen, it’s the commitment of the good people of this community.

  3. IMO this has nothing to do with anything except money! We don't have it and we can't afford to have our taxes raised to build one arena let alone two. We need our council members to come clean and tell us the truth.

    I do agree with the above poster regarding councillor Boyko. He has been around long enough and knows exactly what is going on here.

    Tell us the truth!

  4. Lorne maybe you should find out that you have a conflict before you start forming committees and then qutting them .Maybe you should have found out there was already a committee.For you to succeed what a joke 25 years and not rec complex and you sat on some of those committees in fact you took the rec complex and turn it into an industrail complex and thats really successful 2million and counting

  5. Boyko has been on council way too long, time to say goodbye.

  6. when are people going to see the light Buck Slote does not want to put an arena in Dunnville let alone the bouble pad that all srvey state Grice Barrlett and Delmonti and the Mayor want the power left in Cayuga 160 kids in their Minor Hockey 1400 population An arena that will cost one million less than the Dunnville Arena with over 300 children in Minor Hockey and a population over fourteen thousand Puting an arena in Cayuga puts 4 ice services in the west of the county. The Caledonia arena was built with the intent of having the cayuga population to use it The west of the county is grossly over serviced The idea is to force Dunnville to use thE CAYUGA ARENA BECAUSE HUGH HANLEY SAYS SO.Dunnville NEEDS AND desevs a twin pad arena Cayuga should have their program in Caledonia buck slote has stated that he wants to see Cayuga the central location for hockey in Haldimand When are the people of Dunnville going to stand up and say "Enough is enough . Ask questionsfind out why we are getting the short end again Stop these people. No matter how much they slap themselves on the back for two arenas IT IS A MISTAKE THAT WILL COST THE TAXE PAYERS MILLIONS SO BUCK SLOAT AND HIS CROANIES CAN CURL ONLY THE PEOPLE CAN STOP THIS OUR REPRESENTATIVES ARE TO SCARD OF A LITTLE MAN WITH A BIG MOUTH. DEMAND WHAT IS OURS BEFOR IT IS TOO LATE. Then arerna is not the problle .It is icetime icetime icetime Atwin pad in Dunnville will cost LESS than one each in Dunnville and Cayuga