City hall briefs

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TWO MONTHS EXPECTED FOR CHAMBERS RENOS

Renovations to Sarnia city council chambers are expected to start at the beginning of March and take about two months to complete, city staff said in a recent report.

The renovations include creating a new location for an accessible podium, installing various ramps to make the room more accessible, potentially upping the number of spaces for wheelchairs from two to the entire back row, and upgrading headsets for the hearing impaired.

Along with accessibility upgrades, wired ethernet connection points are being installed at each desk, new access points for private Wi-Fi are being installed, new cameras are going in, and all microphones and video are being synced to be used with video conferencing.

Tablets are also being provided at councillors’ desks for voting purposes.

The total cost is estimated at more than $130,000.

Request-to-speak and digital voting software – automatically updating council decisions and vote counts, and replacing hand raising with tablets to both vote and to queue speakers on an issue – is in the process of being implemented, staff indicated in the report. About $20,000 for the software was approved last September.

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PASA ROOF REPLACEMENT CONTINUING UNTIL 2024

About $1.9 million in roof upgrades at Progressive Auto Sales Arena started in 2020 and will continue until 2024, city staff say.

The roof-replacement project started with the arena’s south last year, and finished on time and on budget at a cost of about $380,000, staff said in a report.

This year’s project targets roof sections over the suites and restaurant areas at a cost of about $507,000.

The roof over the main ice surface is up for replacement in 2022 at an estimated cost of $400,000.

The second rink’s roof is targeted for 2023 with an estimated $300,000 bill while another $300,000 is budgeted for smaller sections on the building’s north and west in 2024.

Once completed, the roof is expected to last 40 years with regular maintenance, the staff report said.

ARENAS TO REOPEN MARCH 1

Progressive Auto Sales and Clearwater arenas are expected to reopen as of March 1 now that Sarnia-Lambton has moved to orange in the province’s COVID-19 response framework.

A report to council earlier this month – before details of the lockdown ending were known – had suggested clearing out ice early if lockdown restrictions weren’t lifted soon.

The ice is typically removed from Clearwater and Sarnia arenas by March 28, and city staff who work in those arenas move to work in the city’s parks department, community services general manager Stacey Forfar recently said.

Coun. Bill Dennis had asked if ice could be left in longer for arena user groups whose seasons have been disrupted by COVID-19.

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The ice will be removed this year on March 28, a recent city staff report said.

Progressive Auto Sales Arena continues with ice year-round, and “we are looking at opportunities to provide a bit of modified programming so all of our major user groups can access it,” Forfar recently told city council.

Parks continue to be well used, she said, “so it is a bit of a balancing act in terms of what we can offer.”

Sarnia Arena is remaining closed, the city staff report said.

“With the overall reduction in ice users this season due to COVID, we didn’t feel all five pads would be necessary for the shortened season we are currently left with,” Sarnia recreation co-ordinator Krissy Glavin said in an email.

The city is confident all youth programming can be accommodated between Progressive and Clearwater arenas, she said.

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