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New facility named after local radio station

The new 76,500 square foot expansion of Renfrew's Ma-Te-way Activity Centre will be renamed the myFM Centre and will include a cultural centre along with several modern and accessible amenities.

Jon Pole, the Renfrew man who was first introduced to radio operations before the age of 10 when his father Jamie Pole purchased CKOB-AM in 1981, is thrilled the new 76,500-square-foot expansion of the town’s Ma-Te-Way Activity Centre will be named the myFM Centre.

The younger Pole, in 2004, became the co-founder of his own radio station, myFM in Renfrew. 

When the newly renovated centre in Renfrew swings open its doors in early 2023, visitors and users of the multi-use recreational and cultural complex will immediately notice the building not only has a new name, but will be a combination of reflections of its past and recognition of current and future trends that helped define Renfrew.

The expansion went from concept based drawings to a modern, fully accessible, energy efficient structured complex, built with $16.1 million in funding from all three levels of government and complete with a name. The addition will combine aspects of sports, business, culture and social gathering areas.

Highlighting the new myFM Centre will be local businesses and an off reserve Indigenous cultural centre. In addition to these new tenants, several other local businesses and organizations have pledged financial support over the next ten years.

Pole, who is also president My Broadcasting Company (MBC) and oversees the operation of 14 radio stations stretching from Pembroke to Grand Bend, said he is excited for the local radio station to eventually move into the new office within the new facility. He said the renaming of the building is something that would never have been imagined in 2004, but today the name reflects the new complex. Both are built with the needs of the local population and building on the strength of those who come in contact with each entity.

“When you look at the heart of the Ottawa Valley, we have radio stations in Pembroke and Arnprior as well, but we started here in Renfrew,” he said. “This building is going to play a big role not only to Renfrew but to the entire Ottawa Valley who will find themselves here.”

Renfrew Chiropractic and Rehabilitation Centre, Ultimate Fitness, Child’s Paradise Day Care Centre and myFM will be the new business tenants in 2023 after they relocate from their current locations.

Financial partners

Along with the $16.1 million provided by federal, provincial and municipal funding, the town of Renfrew’s recreation department have spent the last few years seeking partnerships to reflect the interests of all parts of the area. Individual rooms and areas within the facility have been sponsored as a means to keep the costs at a minimum for local ratepayers.

These include McGrimmon Holdings sponsoring the fitness centre, Kelly Homes based out of Dacre are the primary donors for the main lobby and the town’s recreation fundraising committee who are proud to be the sponsors of the community hall.

Other major sponsors include Ontario Power Generation (multipurpose room), Renfrew Professional Fire Fighters Association (the ice resurfacer), Renfrew Home Hardware Building Centre (gymnasium), Bonnechere Excavating Inc. (expansion rink) and Deslaurier Custom Cabinets Inc. (current rink).

Throughout the construction phase, Kevin Hill, the town’s recreation director, kept town council updated of all construction costs, and at times he was the bearer of bad news for the elected in terms of cost over-runs. During an oral report to council in early February, he said the overrun was $794,000 above the builder's cost forcing a delay in the completion date, pushing it back October 2022 to December 31, 2022

At the time, he explained the sudden inflationary costs, poor weather conditions and delays in the global supply chain were the primary reasons for the delay.

“The arena portion was to be completed but the cold weather made that difficult, and there have been five change events/orders which has added costs to the project,” Hill said at the time. “With the new schedule provided, the ideal completion date has been changed due to a number of factors, and is now projected to be New Year’s Eve, 2022.”

Since then, he worked with staff of Buttcon Ltd., an Ottawa firm contracted to build the 76,500-square-foot expansion, and have been able to adjust the budget, but there will likely still be overruns.

Modern amenities

When the expansion was first debated, the primary component of the structure included a second ice pad and the exclusion of an indoor aquatic centre. After a series of studies and questionnaires to determine the viability of some type of pool, it was decided the second ice pad would be the largest aspect.

When completed, the myFM Centre will include an National Hockey League (NHL) sized ice surface, an elevated walking track, fitness centre, regulation-sized gymnasium, dance/yoga studio, multipurpose rooms, youth drop in centre and administrative office; the existing centre includes the current rink, dressing rooms and the NHA/NHL Birthplace Museum.

Another issue that caused some minor rumblings in the community was the removal of the tennis club and courts from their original 40+ year location to a separate part of the Mateway grounds near the Millennium Trail. If things remain on schedule, tennis enthusiasts will be playing on one of the new six tennis courts.

Both the issue of supply chain delays forced the delay of construction until December 31, 2022. However, Button president Michael Mercier is pleased with the current rate of construction.

“Obviously rainy weather was a roadblock early on in the construction phase,” Mercier said. “However, we are all extremely pleased with how things are moving along despite that. We just got steel in from P. E.I., which is a major milestone in itself.”

Councillor Tom Sidney, chair of the parks and recreation committee since the first designs for expansion were presented to council and the community, acknowledged the efforts of the recreation staff for their hard work.

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