Ball rolling on hub funding application

Steps have been taken to speed Norfolk’s application for federal-provincial funding for a new recreation centre in Simcoe.Norfolk council  has given the county’s recreation facilities advisory board permission to hire a consultant to assist with the preparation of a funding application.Council also has empowered the board to hire an architectural firm to prepare preliminary drawings that would help senior funding authorities assess Norfolk’s application.The provincial government announced in August a major funding program for recreational facilities. The deadline for applying is Nov. 12. With similar infrastructure programs in the past, the province and federal government have given priority to projects that are “shovel-ready.”Norfolk’s delegation to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario conference in Ottawa last month came away knowing that competition for the available millions will be fierce.Port Dover Coun. Amy Martin spoke of delegates lined up in hallways with portfolios and project proposals packaged ready to hand over to senior provincial ministers and bureaucrats.“We need to be ready to check all the boxes and cover it,” Martin said at council’s Sept. 17 meeting.Mayor Kristal Chopp said Norfolk must do something  to “push the envelope” and distinguish its application from the pack.“There are a number of applications that are all going for this limited pool of money,” she said.“Whatever we can do – if it’s a matter of spending a few thousands on an architect to prepare the most competitive application possible – this would be worthwhile.”Chopp said the county needs a design for the recreation centre that speaks to Norfolk’s strengths and unique attributes.“The selection of an architect has huge implications for this project.”Council approved in 2018 a $200,000 budget for preliminary work leading to a funding application. Of this, $30,000 has been spent so far.On Sept. 17, council directed the mayor, who is a member of the recreation facilities board, to vet all invoices arising from the board’s deliberations leading to a funding application this fall.Norfolk is exploring the possibility of building a new multi-use facility because much of the county’s recreational infrastructure in Simcoe is aging and in need of costly upgrades. A design has yet to be finalized but the facility council has in mind could cost about $50 million.The previous council passed a resolution stating that Norfolk’s support for a multi-use complex is contingent on securing funding from senior levels of government.MSonnenberg@postmedia.com

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