Government rejects funding application for new Aquatic Centre based on a technicality

                                     Track and fitness centre

Saugeen Shores recently applied for $13,495,056 in funding for the new Aquatic and Wellness Centre (AWC) to the Green and Inclusive Community Building (GICB) fund through Infrastructure Canada on February 28, 2023.

The AWC is a $50 million investment by the town and is the largest recreational infrastructure investment in the region.

In its application, it was pointed out the the AWC will not only support the town of Saugeen Shores and Saugeen First Nation but also Bruce Power’s workforce.

Unfortunately, however, the town was notified on July 17th (2023) that the application was unsuccessful.

The rationale given was:  Your project’s attestation letter did not sufficiently demonstrate that the project is designed to meet – with or without the addition of a verified transition plan – the Zero Carbon Building Design Standard Version 3, or that it should be exempt from this standard – all based on a technicality using the word “being” in the application.

According to the recent report presented to Council, the term ‘being’ was used in the application as the design of the AWC, at time of submission, was not complete given a Construction Management method is being used that results in ongoing tenders being received while the design is being finalized.

In a meeting with Senior Director of GICB Grant, Bogdan Makuc, he confirmed that the application was solid and said that the application was “one of the better ones they received” and met the  ‘eligibility criteria including the climate criteria’ however, due to the use of the word “being” in the net-zero-ready attestation letter, the application was rejected.

The Aquatic and Wellness Centre however, is in fact designed to meet the Zero Carbon Building Design Standards V3 that align with the criteria of the grant and “… a simple call to the Architect would have clarified this terminology”.

Despite having a solid application, transition plan and shovel-ready project that will ensure a Net Zero Ready building is constructed, the application was not advanced due to the wording technicality.

There was no opportunity provided to address the misunderstanding.

It is now time to decide if this new building will be designed to Net Zero standards as it cannot be realized by Saugeen Shores alone and requires other levels of government funding to support the enhanced Net Zero design.

According to Jill Roote, Director of Strategic Initiatives, the Provincial Minister of Infrastructure was supportive and will do what she can to intervene with Federal Minister Fraser.

The CAO Kara Van Myall said that, because it was related to a technicality, the town is now in the process of seeing if the application can be re-submitted.  “We are hoping to meet with the Ministry later this month and clarify the technicality and ask that the application be reconsidered.”

She also explained that the Province is exploring its recreational funding sources and that Provincial Minister Surma was “very sympathetic to the Town’s situation with the technicality and is willing to speak with her Federal counterpart.”