Funding for big projects in Warwick and St. Clair rejected


Heather Wright & Alex Kurial
The Independent & Local Journalism Initiative

Warwick and St. Clair Township will be searching for cash again.
Both municipalities have been rejected for funding for their large arena projects from the Canada Infrastructure Program. It would have seen 71 per cent funding for the multi-million dollar projects from the federal and provincial governments.
Warwick Mayor, Jackie Rombouts, says the municipality received word recently the $10 million rebuild of the Watford arena which includes a new community hall to replace the aging Centennial Hall, wouldn’t be getting funding.
She recently talked to provincial politicians during the Association of Municipalities of Ontario meeting about the deal. “He did encourage us to apply again for the COVID-19 intake,” says Rombouts noting the federal and provincial government plan to offer more grant money in the future.
But she says council will be looking at other options.
A report is expected from administration on the possibilities for fundraising including how a local committee of volunteers might raise some of the cash needed for the project.
“Now is not an ideal time to start doing a big fundraising campaign. But hopefully in the spring, we’re likely going to start doing that.”
And Rombouts expects council will want to move forward with the projects since Centennial Hall needs to be replaced.

“This community has been waiting for this project for a long, long time. And council has been putting money away for it in our budget process, so I think yes, absolutely. The hall needs to be replaced and we have a good plan going forward.”
Meantime St. Clair Township was also told it wouldn’t be receiving any money for upgrades. 
The township had applied for grant funding to aid improvements to the 50-year-old facility. One of the most pressing needs is to replace the current ammonia ice making system. 
The provincial government had to narrow $10 billion worth of proposals down to their almost $1 billion available in funding to pass along to the federal government for approval.
There were so many requests for funds, most large projects were rejected.
St. Clair Director of Community Services Kendall Lindsay says the decision not to include the Moore Sports Complex in the final selection is “devastating news which is absolutely frustrating to hear.”
The total cost of the renewal project was $35 million. Plans were to build an NHL sized rink, another retro rink, a new gymnasium and fitness studio, an aquatic area, and a fitness center. The new facilities would have opened between 2021 and 2025. 
Lindsay says with this funding option gone the project may need to pivot and address immediate concerns. He says the biggest of these is the direct ammonia system.
“We are the last system like this in Ontario and this must change in the summer of 2021,” Lindsay says. He added that a failure could cause both rinks to shut down at any time. 
The roofs on both rinks need repairs as well.
Some of this work needs to be done before the winter.
Lindsay says council needs to set options for moving forward, what to prioritize, and seeing what money is even available.