More answers needed on the DCC plan | 99.1 FM CKXS

A design concept for the redevelopment of downtown Chatham. (Photo courtesy of the Municipality of Chatham-Kent)

Further excavation will need to be carried out before any decision is made on a proposed revitalization of downtown Chatham.

The issue was a hot topic at Monday night’s council meeting, with many councilors trying to figure out how the project will affect area residents and user groups.

An initial report suggested the overall cost of the three-phase project was around $115–125 million.

Most advisers agreed that there were still too many questions to go ahead with the project as is, but these questions should be resolved through additional due diligence.

South Kent Councilor Mary Clare Latimer said the recommended $2million due diligence would be money well spent determining how the municipality could move forward, with or without the private investors, especially with regards to assets such as the Civic Centre, Cultural Center and Chatham Library.

“I think this plan, this due diligence, allows us to address both public and employee safety, accessibility, age-friendliness, energy efficiency, spatialization and public accommodation. , all of which are current challenges and long-standing issues in all three countries. of these municipal places.

Councilor Steve Pinsonneault believes that regardless of the benefits of revitalizing downtown Chatham, the cost of the project is simply too high.

“There’s no way this community can afford $125 million, and unless someone tells me the money is coming from somewhere else, it’s not possible. Not even in stages. Any estimates you have right now, those numbers will be skewed next year due to inflation and rising interest rates, that $125 million could go up significantly.

Ward Six Councilor Michael Bondy said with all the work needed, particularly at the Civic Center, maintaining the status quo is no longer an option.

“We have a mall in the middle (of downtown Chatham) that blocks any new success from our downtown,” says Bondy. “Wouldn’t we spend $2 million in consulting and survey fees if we had to renovate the Civic Centre, the Museum and the Cultural Centre? I think we probably would. We have an opportunity, and the opportunity may never come again.

108 submissions were received in the most recent public consultation process, but Bruce McAllister, Chatham-Kent’s general manager of community development, said the municipality hopes to get more input during the next due diligence.

Several councilors pointed out that Phase II of the project, which includes the arena and entertainment complex, should only go ahead with additional funding sources.

A motion to postpone any further decision until the board’s next term failed 4-13. A motion to proceed with the $2 million due diligence passed by a vote of 14 to 2.

A Request for Proposals (RFP) is expected to be issued in the coming days to find a third party to further investigate the proposal.

The investigation phase will include

  • A certified appraisal and engineering report, if any, for the portions of the Chatham Town Center property which are proposed to be transferred to the municipality are obtained;
  • A qualified, independent firm be retained through a Request for Proposals to conduct further public consultation, feasibility and business case assessment, and technical and financial review described in this report with recommendations on final scope, value and next steps reported to the Board;
  • The cost weighting in the Board approved matrix for consultants should be reduced from 30% to 10% in the RFP above to prioritize technical expertise and project schedule.
  • External legal counsel should be retained to initiate the legal negotiation of the terms of a development agreement and related legal issues with community partners and that the terms of an agreement be submitted for final Board approval