UPDATED Pictou County Wellness Centre in the red

Sueann Musick
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Wellness Centre

PICTOU - The Pictou County Wellness Centre's first year has county council seeing red.   

CLICK HERE TO READ PCWC Operating Plan 2013-2014

Municipality of Pictou County CAO Brian Cullen told county councillors Tuesday during a finance committee meeting that the 2012-2013 unaudited fiscal outlook for the new facility shows a shortfall of about $445,500. 

The operating deficit for the centre is projected to be just over $300,000 while the board operations, which relate to debt financing charges, come in at around $600,000.  However, the Pictou County Wellness Building Authority is predicting the actual shortfall will be $445,000.

Cullen said the deed transfer tax can cover up to $250,000 of this deficit, meaning the wellness centre will still end its current fiscal year with a deficit of a little more than $197,000. 

''This must be picked up by the municipal units," said Cullen, adding this includes every municipal unit, but the Town of Westville since it didn't agree to become a member of the Pictou County Wellness Centre Building Authority.

The Pictou County Wellness Centre is owned by the five municipalities which agreed to put a deed transfer tax in place to help cover its operating costs. This means that one per cent of every real estate sale in these municipal unit goes to the authority to pay for the wellness centre as well as upgrades to the Aberdeen Hospital.  

The entire building cost $38.2 million to construct with millions of dollars contributed from all three levels of government.  Construction began in July 2010 and it opened in November 2012. Its features include a twin pad arena with two NHL-size ice surfaces, a six-lane, 25-metre pool and a warm water pool and regulation size gymnasium. The Pictou County YMCA moved into the wellness centre this past fall. 

Based on a funding formula, the Municipality of Pictou County has to pay 25.4 per cent of this $197,000 shortfall, so its bill will come in around $50,000 for this year.  He added this could increase by an additional $10,000 since some payables have yet to come in.

Costs for other municipal units range from $8,000 to more than $60,000.

Cullen said when the municipal authorities were first presented with the proposal by a group called Citizens for a Healthy Pictou County Society to take on the wellness centre,  it estimated that the centre would accumulate a $230,000 deficit that would be covered by the deed transfer tax.  

However, he said, this proposal was based on a 90 per cent capacity model for the centre, but the building is currently only being used to 42 per cent of its capacity.  Cullen said the wellness centre gets the majority of its revenue from ice rentals and as of now that number is much lower than projected. 

"The authority is looking at other expenses like power consumption and other ways to get in line with what we anticipated," he said. "The utility costs are higher than we anticipated."

As county councillors were struggling to grasp these numbers, Cullen said things don't look much better for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.  The wellness centre is projecting revenues of $782,000, but its expenses are predicted to be about $1.4 million for an operating deficit of about $651,000.

There is also the possibility that an additional $75,000 in capital costs could be tacked onto this bill for maintenance work for a total deficit of more than $720,000. 

With the deed transfer tax covering up to $250,000 of this deficit, the Municipality of Pictou County could be on the hook for about $120,000 in 2013-2014. 

"If this is bad this year and so is next year or in five years, do we go bankrupt?" asked Coun. Chester Dewar. 

Coun. Randy Palmer said the county and four other municipal units agreed to cover the wellness centre's deficit and it must abide by the agreement.

"We own it," he said. "If it goes bankrupt. We all go bankrupt." 

Cullen said the operating costs of the facility are not expected to fluctuate much in the future so the goal is to increase revenue for the centre.

"We are stealing from Peter so we can steal from Paul," said Coun. David Parker. "I am very concerned with these numbers. I look at Pictou and Trenton and they are barely scraping by now. Those are serious numbers that frighten me."

Council asked where the business plan went wrong and questioned how Pictou County could continue to accommodate all of its ice surfaces.

"The business plan contemplated there would be six ice surfaces in the county. We currently have eight," said Cullen. 

Coun. Robert Parker questioned whether the authority's decision to keep its ice rentals low or on par with other arena's in the county was hurting its revenue, but Cullen said increasing the amount of ice rental would just drive people to other rinks. 

"Rentals are low, but the authority is in a catch 22," Cullen said. "Raise them (the rates) you lose people and it will have a negative effect." 

Although he doesn't support such a move Robert Parker asked if the authority considered raising the deed transfer tax to 1.5 per cent as a way to raise its revenue. Cullen responded by saying " the deed transfer tax is performing the way it is suppose to". 

"It's the business model that is not," added Robert Parker. 

County Warden Ron Ballie, who is the chair for the authority, said the most important thing council can do is keep a close eye on the centre's expenses. 

"This is the worst case scenario and we can't tell you how much the best case scenario is," he said. "We only own one facility in the county and that is the wellness centre. We have to keep a thumb down on the expenses. "

New Glasgow Mayor Barrie MacMillan said although the town doesn't exactly know what its contribution to the 2012-2013 deficit will be because the figures have yet to be audited, the town has budgeted to cover its expected contribution to the deficit. New Glasgow is responsible for 35.5 per cent of the deficit, the highest percentage of any municipality. MacMillan said he's not completely surprised that the Wellness Centre has a deficit.

 "We knew that there was going to be an operational deficit especially in year number one, where we had a lot of startup costs and commissioning costs that certainly wouldn't be included in another year," he said.

New Glasgow's Chief Administrative Officer Lisa MacDonald said the town accounted for the deficit in its budget, which council approved at its meeting Tuesday.

The audited fiscal statements for the Pictou County Wellness Centre are expected by the end of June.    

 

Organizations: Pictou County Wellness Centre Building Authority, Aberdeen Hospital, NHL Pictou County YMCA Healthy Pictou County Society

Geographic location: Pictou County, Westville, Trenton

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  • Facepalm
    May 26, 2013 - 11:09

    I find it odd that some are crying to have the old rinks shut down in favor of the PCWC. Most of which are in residential areas, within walking distance of a much larger percentage of the population than the PCWC. Instead we should all get into our cars, gas up, and DRIVE somewhere so we can all pay more money to get EXERCISE. I am dumbfounded. But I suppose, in a way, it kind of makes sense. Put our big shiny new building right beside the highway, show it off to all the people driving by. Because, let's be honest, our politicians are far more interested in prying away american tourists' dollars than taking care of the people who elected them.

  • traveler
    May 26, 2013 - 02:47

    There is so much to say, so much to write, but only so much space to do it. I go back to Pictou County (PC) every couple of years to visit family. I am proud of where I am from and who I am because of where I am from. But you know what? PC is no longer the PC of my youth and I am not that old. When I go back I see roads falling apart, brush and trees growing right onto the roads that sometimes seem to be more potholes than roadways. I see far too many stores shut down that were at one time sucessful that are now boarded up with "for rent" or "for lease" in the windows. I see people's homes falling apart because some politicans who declared themselves the people's great, white knight in shining armour headed for the trough to be shoulder to shoulder with their buddies in Halifax or Ottawa while the industries in PC shut down. I see a huge increase in illness such as cancer and other sickness while no one is questioning having a pulp and paper mill, a rubber plant making tires, a chemical plant and former steel mill and a foundery that was right in the middle of the biggest town in PC. Maybe there is no harm from these industries and sure the employment is good but at what cost? I see a proud people who keep smiling and trying to be positive while they know the odds are stacked against them and there is no escape unless they leave PC. But they cannot leave, they have to keep struggling to never win. I am shocked at the prices for basic food staples like milk in the major local grocery stores when I see that they are roughly TWICE what I pay back home and that is almost twice what they pay just a few miles away from my home across the border in the U.S. It seems that PC has become a place of 2 classes of people... the well off and the rest who have to struggle through every day to just survive. And somehow the ones who struggle are not being heard. PC needs a HUGE change, a major realignment of what is right and wrong because at this moment things are not working too well. How this change would come about or how it would work is something I have no idea about. But it cannot continue as it is if it is to be for the best for the majority of the people and not just the elite upper class.

  • glad I moved
    May 25, 2013 - 13:52

    Criminal ! Glad i moved my family out of PC ,best move I ever made ! It was nothing but moving forward from day 1 coming to Alberta !!! Not moving backwards like living there but with that out of me ,lets just say nite and day between two provinces for quality of living ! Grande prairie 55 thousand population has 3 wellness centers. And Canada games complex which y costs are half of what you pay there ! 50 dollars a month and I'm not locked in so if I decide to take few months off no biggie ,vermilion population 6 thousand and some rural so say 10 thousand in total. Has same wellness center as PC for its county .you show boys out here about home and they do ask questions like its pretty bad back there eh ? And you show them articles like this one and outsiders looking in saying same thing criminal ! Back woods politics .and that's only a couple of wellness centers out here out of many here ! Its a sin to see that county in the shape its in ! You go into a sobeys like Pictou and no different than ghetto grocery store in Edmonton ,nothing in it ,streets and side walks are like wow ! Water line project gets done over 10 years lol piece here and there and patches all through the asphalt creating Mega pot holes lol , still don't think there done yet ? My wife was never away from home before and she cant believe the difference in our lives outside PC ! Well she sees it now :) lets just say our quality of living has changed drastically for the good ! And nobody here expected to give up 1% tax to wellness for healthy living ! Uncalled for ! Edmonton was 55 million short for there new 854 million barn for oilers and believe it wasn't. Being taken out of tax payers lol ,it was well informed and public had lots of say in the matter and resolved ! All I can say to any young people there get out ! And you will see what opportunity's you can have outside that county .don't wait as long as I did and suffer ,you will be moving forward the day you jump on the plane lol

    • pictou county AHAHAAH
      May 26, 2013 - 07:39

      to glad i moved totally agree with you dude , iwas west for a number of years and had rto move back due to family issues. bought a house here had to pay $2300 to the hellness centre, then i heard today that sobeys employes get a discounted rate at hellnes centre and the Y ,why is that good old pictou county politics STAY WEST THIS PLACE IS NOT GOOD FOR ANYBODY

    • laughing
      May 26, 2013 - 09:46

      the fact that you used 'lol' four times in your comment makes it irrelevant

  • Peter Mackay should be ashamed
    May 25, 2013 - 11:22

    Well where can one start there is the fact that Pictou County has the highest amount of taxes being paid into the government, or sorry being paid in to assist "pictou county" members. to that I say HA! really, how have you helped us? well you helped us build a center that is going to break us all, it will dystroy this small community and devide the people living here, we seem to have the "haves" that have the funds to use such a facility, and the "have nots" that no one cares about, that makes sense........ lets make it harder to get people to go to a facility built from Tax payers, built for tax payers by raising the cost of the taxes that have to be paid to keep it afloat, and then make it to costly for tax payers to afford. now lets move one to a great second point to ponder.. Pictou County ( New Glasgow) ... really had nothing to lose, oh wait it did, it really only needed one thing to make it look good again and instead they made it look shittier then ever, how. 1). well we have more fly ash/ chemicals in the air and water then most places. 2) we have 2 roads that are in the top 3 worst roads in Atlantic Canada, yes.... 2 OF THE TOP 3!!, who would have thought that the wellness center could have waited while we fixed roads. 3) we were voted the worst place to live in Canada, THE WORST PLACE, then Peter Mackay gives More money to the wellness center... why has no one mentioned the additional $700,000.00 he gave them for the daycare? did it get fixed up yet?? still looks the same, where did all of the money go? why have we not seen this? There is alot that Peter Mackay has to answer for especially why we have not seen any of the "upgrades to the hospital" where are they all? humm... wonder why he did not have his baby born in his home town, yeah ... thought so .

  • Margaret Robson
    May 24, 2013 - 18:17

    I knew that building the wellness center in Pictou Country/ would be a mistake. It is our taxed payers dollars also home owners that have no say in the matter. They could of spent the money fixing up roads or something better that would being money into the province. I and half of pictou country do not care about the wellness center. Read the polls? We as Nova Scotian pay the highest tax in all of Canada. What was wrong with the other rinks ? They were doing ok on there own. The roads are getting or have been worse in the country/ and you wonder why there is alot more accidents. I have my grade 12 and I always said I could do better than any of them on a budget. People are moving away from here including my self their is nothing here for the people anymore. Now they have decided not to have the pictou fair this year.I Ithink since they built the wellness center it has become a big mistake. Like I said in the being . We are be comeing a ghost town.

  • cale macdonald
    May 23, 2013 - 22:35

    I agree with the writer's. Against the deed transfer tax. Because of the tax, I personally changed my mind about buying property in the county. I did not intend to utilize the Wellness facility, and did not agree with my support being forced. I think that this facility, might have been great, if it was built because it was needed, wanted, and was useful to the majority of citizens. It is none of these. It is, a personal power trip and a poor decision. By those in political power, who are associated with the business class that want their entitlements. On the backs of the working class. Close it, maybe move the other Sobeys folly we paid for and continue to pay for into it....the needless Sobeys self promotion Museum of Industry into it.

  • TM
    May 23, 2013 - 14:28

    to the commenter "sleepless in my shitty underwear" if you are sleepless maybe you should consider changing your underwear :). That will solve the issue.

    • Cecil Beatle
      May 23, 2013 - 19:39

      Ok here it is , we had 6 rinks in the county , servicing about 40 thousand people, more rinks per capita than any other place in the world , and they added two more ice pads. How could they figure that they would reach a 90 percent rental capacity even if two rinks were closed still leaving 6 pads in the county? If the building was designed properly , like truro with one pad and Summerside with 3000 seats so they can hold events like the royal bank cup and maybe a major junior team down the road after all we are in between halifax and Sidney, but they decided to build it with 2 pads with the main arena that holds less than the New Glasgow stadium . The number of beer league teams have dropped due to the number of 22 year old and over guys looking and working else where , because lets face it there isn't any jobs here. The number of old timer teams are dwindling because the guys are just getting old. The beer leagues and old timer teams fill the 7 to 12 pm slots. They haven't been able to attract those teams and probably wont..Pictou County Minor Hockey is a mess and a big money grab , and the the politics there are driving people away. Was a consultant hired to see if a project like this is viable ? After all there is a 38 million dollar price tag attached? If there was one hired what were the findings? I know of at least 2 former rink managers that weren't asked for there input and when they volunteered it they were brushed aside. I will touch on the management , the Stadium used to be one of the cleanest in the county , it didn't take long for Mr Adams to turn it into a dump , the Jr A teams hated coming here because it was so filthy, and now he manages the Wellness center .I could good go on and on because there is so much more but i will leave you with this, the operations manager is from Antigonish , so is one of the ice makers , one of the other ice makers is a retired power commission worker . Why in the hell is a retired power commission employee taking a job away from someone who needs one, he is supposed to be retired . And are jobs that plentiful that they have to go to Antigonish to find some one. I know some one who has 20 plus years of rink experience that didn't get a job there . Just a few things to chew on.

  • mike from reality
    May 23, 2013 - 12:16

    Get rid of 5 of the 6 CAO's and the problem is solved

    • Troy
      May 23, 2013 - 14:41

      Nice to see that I'm not the only one that considers that glorified country club the "well to do center". It costs a family of four $24 to swim for one hour that works out to over $1200 to swim there once a week for the year truly obscene! The burden that albatross is going to cost the towns that jumped in feet first is going to be astounding nice to see Westville had the common sense to not get involved. At the end of the day that place has more to do with a very specific demographic of people in pictou county and money sense magazine than the accessibility to health and wellness for ALL in the community.

    • TROY
      May 23, 2013 - 14:45

      Nice to see that I'm not the only one that considers that glorified country club the "well to do center". It costs a family of four $24 to swim for one hour that works out to over $1200 to swim there once a week for the year truly obscene! The burden that albatross is going to cost the towns that jumped in feet first is going to be astounding nice to see Westville had the common sense to not get involved. At the end of the day that place has more to do with a very specific demographic of people in pictou county and money sense magazine than the accessibility to health and wellness for ALL in the community.

  • stacy conners
    May 23, 2013 - 11:31

    no wonder families are leaving pc with comments like this .its your choice if you do not want to go to the health centre.and yes it dont cost a lot to join a few cups of tims hortons a day.or a pack of smokes.or a visit to a fast food joint.if they held bingo inthere it would be packed everynight..and as for the elite just foolish talk.alot of retired people are members who are far from being rich .what they need to do is close a few of the rinks.john brother macdonald should be closed very out dated .westville should also be closed and as for pictou a waste of ninty thousand dollars.it is scary to go into it ..when the wellness centre was under construction all the towns started putting money on there rinks that was in bad shape for years.if pictou county wants families to move here give them something to move here for .

    • Lee
      May 23, 2013 - 14:31

      I highly doubt people are leaving the county because of "comments like this". It's more likely that people leave due to mismanagement such as this, lack of jobs, lack of a viable future. Give your own head a shake. There are people who cannot afford to eat and heat their homes, they have to choose which they prefer yet oh it's easy enough to pay for a Y membership, is it? Not everyone can swing it but we're all on the hook for this place no matter what we can or cannot afford. It's no wonder people are leaving, that's for sure but it sure as hell isn't because of anything anyone said!

    • MD
      May 23, 2013 - 16:34

      Actually, I used to work at the wellness centre, and when I was there a lot of the seniors were cancelling their memberships because of the cost, or because many things were not accessible. Just putting that in there

  • Bob in N.S.
    May 23, 2013 - 11:00

    Ken J. you sound like just another A hole shooting off without knowing any facts.I meant no disrespect toward Peter MacKay,I just stated the truth. Yes Peter has done a lot for the area,but the PC refered to by me was the now extinct Progressive Conservative party,not Pictou county as i now realize was the reference made by realist.

  • Robert A.
    May 23, 2013 - 10:56

    wellness center not doing well I would like to see the balance sheet .. show us the income and the expenses . to get public input we need to see where the problems are

  • concerned
    May 23, 2013 - 08:32

    If the 1% deed transfer tax was to go to the wellness center AND for upgrades to the Aberdeen Hospital, where are the upgrades to the hospital going to come from now that the wellness center will be using all that money plus more for its deficit??

  • DW
    May 23, 2013 - 08:08

    Seriously - are we surprised. Pictou Co. with it's umpteen rinks and the Y was hardly the place for this Center. We don't have the population to sustain this behemoth. And to whoever said we are resistant to change here in Pictou Co, I say Bull! It has nothing to do with resistance to change - it has to do with exactly what this article is all about. The Wellness Center was a mistake but who was given a choice whether the building of it went ahead or didn't? Not the people who will end up footing the deficit bill every year. It was a BIG mistake, I say again.

  • theRealSnowman
    May 23, 2013 - 08:08

    I named it the " Well to Do Centre " , as that is just what it is. A place for the well to do. Pictou County could no more afford this place, than Moose River, and please no offence to Moose River. Did anyone think that there would not be a huge operating cost to this building ? Did they not think that everyone would buy into it ? Did they not think that many people cannot afford the transportation to get there, let alone the membership ? No, there was not a lot of thought gone into this, just that they ( the well to do ) wanted it, and they wanted it now. So I say that all those who were waving their banners and honking their horns and shouting for it .....................pay for it . But I am afraid that, it's not going to be that way. The seniors on fixed income, those who wanted to just support what we had, and anyone else who cannot use it, will still have to pay, as they will likely dream up an extra tax for us all. I am sad to say, that I am beginning to believe what another reader has said ......." it's time to pull up stakes and move out "... as it's becoming apparent that the only way to live in this County, is you have to be... " Well to Do "

  • Moved away
    May 23, 2013 - 00:51

    90 percent capacity? Where the heck did you come up with those projected figures? You steal 1% of all house purchases and sales and expect everyone to grab what's left of they're money and run down there for a membership? People in New Glasgow are having a hard time buying healthy food or any food at all and you expected everyone to just hand over all the money you need? Would of been better of putting up a neon lighted iron tea cup like Trenton did. At least they only have to pay for the silly lights. I would advise anyone still living in pictou county to get out while you can. It only gets worse and no one is actually trying to fix it. Of all the problems there is in the county clearly the answers were a wellness center, new sidewalks and less parking downtown and a monument for the recently closed car works. Oh and don't forget a tank. That makes everyone feel a lot better. To put it in lament terms for those people in the council that voted for this. Your all really really stupid.

  • any surprise - think not
    May 22, 2013 - 22:27

    well thank God I live in Westville, but I bet you are going to be digging into your pockets soon to cover those costs, plus the transfer tax that was not voted on - got rid of the little pool in Pictou for that place - no thanks!! I won't be going in to have me being watched by every person that walks in the door, it was designed for the rich and elite that make the big bucks - not the person on min wage or that work a mid shift....

  • JimBob
    May 22, 2013 - 21:27

    I think the wellness centre is a terrific addition to our Pictou County community, and is something we should all get behind. I do think that there is no need for 8 ice surfaces in Pictou County and we need some political leadership to close some of the old rinks. By the way, before you criticize the operating cost of the Wellness Centre, ask your councillor how much it cost to run each of the other 6 ice surfaces in Pictou County. You might be surprised to see how much of a drain every rink is on taxpayers!

  • Dear God, broke already
    May 22, 2013 - 21:03

    Close it before it breaks us. A greedy and small elite group forced this on us. Most of us knew that we couldn't afford to use it, that it wasn't accessible for many citizens who live in the country due to time to drive back and forth and the cost of gas. Let the elite pay for it. ...Some prestigious people in P.C. are responsible for this Wellness Centre deficit being dumped on is....98% of us who will never use it are forced to pay for it. We had to pay 1% towards this and we had no opportunity to object to it and were not even acknowldeged in your opening. Were there no accountants in the forecasting of the revenues ???????

  • Rika MacDonald
    May 22, 2013 - 20:48

    We are a small county with limited population base that can afford the annual membership fees. This is going to be a money pit. It was a bad idea from the very beginning. If it was the bigger enterprises that wanted this center, why not ask them to come up with shortfall. As the deficit grows so does the banking costs. The money should have been spent on the existing rinks, swimming pools and gyms. I for one cannot afford to drive from Scotsburn to the Wellness center and pay for a membership and the extra fees. WRONG, WRONG. Poor planning.

  • reality check
    May 22, 2013 - 20:27

    From the comments posted the overwhelming theme is that the PCWC is a financial failure based on the 2012-2013 operating deficit and projected future deficits. The one number that stood out to me and should have to our municipal leaders was the projected 90% capacity model. The saying if you build it they will come didn't materialize because of the deep rooted loyalty of residents to their existing facilities regardless of the glimmer and shine of the new facility. Revenue streams are limited and design and engineering assumptions on operating costs will continue to have a major impact on the bottom line. The fact that there is an operating deficit was not or should not surprise anyone. The majority of recreation type facilities of this type run deficits. It is the cost of providing services to the municipalities. What is concerning and will be a major challenge for our leaders is how to increase revenues, decrease operating costs and regain the public trust. The Wellness Centre is a significant asset to our community but at what cost.

  • Kel
    May 22, 2013 - 20:19

    I would've at least liked to see a significant discount for homeowners. I get it, having the Wellness Centre supposedly adds value to a home, but it's not fair to make people pay for a facility they have no intention of using, especially when that money could be used for further repairs to said home which would also raise value. It's terrible to think that all of this money could've been going towards something that our community actually cares about, like the hospital or our schools.

  • Wise Woman
    May 22, 2013 - 19:01

    Knew it wouldn`t work.

    • Troy
      May 23, 2013 - 01:51

      From the get go when they were looking for the public to name that money vampire I said they should have called it to do the "Well to do Center" not the wellness center. The families and its patrons it was intended for is far beyond their economical reach and is nothing more than a status indicator for those it was actually built for. This is from a proud Westville resident who won't be saddled with this albatross around our necks for the coming years.

  • Ken
    May 22, 2013 - 18:38

    What an interesting situation....who could have predicted a deficit???? How about everyone in Pictou County! Hear ye...hear ye!!!! I have the solution....Since the big business claimed we needed a Wellness Centre to attract employees for their companies I would suggest that all deficits not cover by the deed transfer tax will be immediately charged to their business tax rate...Case solved. You wanted it...you pushed for it...anyone against it "had no vision"... Now YOU pay for it!!!!!

    • Ken Logan
      May 22, 2013 - 20:35

      You are so right on. The first to pay should be Sobeys. Also make it against the law to charge this back to the consumer in any form whatsoever. I would also mention that those Mayors and Council so willing to bring in this Deed Transfer Tax should also contribute in some form or other. Need I say more.

  • Love the Wellness Center
    May 22, 2013 - 17:22

    What is wrong with you people.I have never seen so many people in a community so resistant to change and building our community.There is much to offer at the Wellness Center having everything under one roof. Close some of our other rinks.For example look at the $$ being put into Trenton rink and Pictou Rink right now and look at the appaling condition of Stellarton rink.It is dangerous to step through the doors there IMO.Lets act as one great community and rally like we can instead of looking at us as individual towns.Time to grow up folks,band together and do the right things for Pictou County where we all live.Lets use one of the ice surfaces to attract concerts,lets rent the banquet rooms for weddings,etc.Lets have teen groups in the facility in the evenings and hold dances,etc.Why must we lock the doors at 7PM.It is open to the imagination the number of events that could be hosted there.Talk with the NG Square.What events would they like to have but don't have room to co-ordinate.Gee,perhaps if they work with Wellness Center they can work together to accomadate. Stop bashing folks,put your heads together and bring other ideas to the Wellness Center,close some older buildings for the betterment of our entire region.My 1st suggestion is to tear down Stellarton rink,make it a recreation building with facilities rental.Great ball field right there, would be nice to watch a game and perhaps go over to full clubhouse canteer,facilities,etc...and yes you could still have bingo there..Increase ice rentals,NO,,,that is why all the other rinks are still doing ok...their ice rentals are already much lower. Try lowering your ice rental and therefore perhaps rent to capacity. Simple solution. Just my opinions but I think we all need to look ahead, not back...embrace this fantastic facility rather thann bash it. It is here,deal with it...make better choices. But to the Wellness facility,lower your rates to make it more affordable and you will get more people.Variety is the missing ingredient here at the cnter,find other uses for it and it CAN thrive!!!!

  • Embarrased County Resident
    May 22, 2013 - 17:07

    Is there really any surprise in this news considering that most nights everything is shut down by 8pm? How about those well thought out electric front doors that swing wide open and let all of the heat out everytime someone passes through on a cold winter day? This place and its management is a joke. A select few decided we "needed" this facility, while having no problem slitting the throats of the other rinks around that may need the odd upgrade. I doubt all of the upgrades that were needed combined wouldn't have cost what this palace did. I bet the NS Power powers that be, love to see all that heat going literally, out the front door. This place is not user friendly. Its all driven by money, greed and egos, but forget how they treat their patrons. No one wanted to pay the 1% on property transactions, and then the solution is to increase the user fees or look to the towns for money they don't have? Hockey parents already pay increased registrations to support this place, as the "Wellness Center" charges higher hourly rates that then other rinks. But that is all hush hush. No one ever called me and asked if we wanted to use this facility. The list is endless of screw ups for things they "forgot" to do during construction, the way both the palace and the Y treats their members is pathetic and they just don't care. No one even thought it through enough to place the flags up for the first Jr A game. As long as they get your cash, the rest is trivial. Maybe somebody will get wise and either shut this place down before the County gets flushed down the hole farther than we already are, or find a way to properly manage it. This County is in big trouble and is struggling with the loss of jobs, business and population moving away. No wonder we are rated the worst place to live. Perhaps its time to put the egos aside and ask the community for their input. After all, we are the ones on the hook for it. Shame on the egos that put this burden on the rest of us. I am sure you won't be telling your children that they won't be able to participate in their favourite activities because it all costs too much at the palace. People have already paid their admission for the circus as we have the clowns and the tent. What a joke!

  • sep
    May 22, 2013 - 16:52

    We are two seniors on fixed income, would love to use the pool, but too expensive to join !!!

    • YMCA Supporter
      May 27, 2013 - 10:57

      The YMCA is involved with this facility because it is an outstanding organization focused on building healthy communities and is a registered charity. The Y has a membership assistance program designed for those who are willing but unable to pay full price for membership. Do not forget this opportunity exists, and anyone claiming not being able to afford access to its programs and services, should make the call and inquire. The process is confidential and respectful and there are reasonable steps and requests in place to ensure the system is not abused.

    • All talk
      May 28, 2013 - 15:53

      I agree with you seniors, I agree with the families, the single parents and alike, it is too costly! YMCA supporter, you should realize there are strict guidelines to qualify for these lowered membership rates. Strict guidelines that make it impossible for some that need the rates lowered. I know of a single mom who IS a single mom and with the cost of living she cannot afford. She was reviewed and NO she does not make large amounts of money, but more than minimum wage, BUT because she doesn't have ENOUGH debt she does not qualify! Hardly acceptable!!!! I CAN afford the facility, but do believe it to be too pricey. I also believe that whoever was in the planning of the structure failed miserably! There is so much that is lacking in some areas and so much wasted space in others. It doesn't have a community feel. It has snobby feeling! But regardless, my point being it needs some major changes. I don't believe it should go bankrupt as there is more that can be done to improve it, but lets face it, It is NOT an Optimal building! I hope those companies that pushed for it are standing beside it and bailing it out as this is NOT the responsibility of the people!

  • Rue Guy
    May 22, 2013 - 16:47

    Everyone give a big round of applause for the bureaucracy that's failed us yet again. Thanks for nothing. Actually, thanks for less than nothing. Potentially -$700 000 less than nothing. I wish I could thank you for nothing, at least then the Hellness Centre would be breaking even.

  • just thinking
    May 22, 2013 - 16:33

    well it is here to stay.so make the best of it .i have a membership love the pool and the gym is just great a small price to pay for a healthy body.if you dont care to join there are alot that is.when you see disabled people comming in and having a great time .and the children having a ball in the heated pool.and the seniors useing the gym equipment.and thinking it is great.then it is all worth it .and the staff is the best.

  • P
    May 22, 2013 - 16:33

    I can't even afford a membership at the stupid thing. I called it from the begining tha it was a waste of money! We could have put money into fixing exisiting structures and saved a big chunk!

  • Sleepless in my shitty underwear
    May 22, 2013 - 16:14

    Pictou County Wellness Center?It was a poor idea!never should have happened!the clowns who decided to give this monumental piece of garbage should take it back and apply for a refund.It useless as are most of the clowns whining about everyone in the stupid county pay for it!I have to unfortunately live in this sty but all in all I will not pay for something that is of no use to me!those who think we all should be forced to pay for it,they themselves should have to forfeit $60 a month off their welfare to pay =) whats good for the goose is good for the gander

  • Bob in N.S.
    May 22, 2013 - 16:08

    Realist,I agree with all your points about the wellness center except one. In no way does Peter MacKay belong to or represent PC values. He is a member of Stephen Harpers pro Alberta Reform party that operates under a pilfered name, which by the way is akin to the wolf in sheeps clothing.

  • Ticked in Trenton
    May 22, 2013 - 15:36

    Well Well Well!! imagine, Pictou County should be forced to pay one way or another for this messed up deal of the Wellness Center, it's so bad, you can not buy a house with out donating 1% to the center, well i will move before i ever put 1 cent into it!, we were looking to buy a home but that soon changed when we found out we had to pay 1 % to the wellness Center, we do not use the Wellness Canter what so ever and we will never use it, as for my Grand Children, well the Pictou Fisheries looks great! and as for the ice, well there is other ice besides there, so you will not get my Families support for your bad judgements, you wanted it so you and the big spenders can have it and pay for it, STOP preying on the people of this County who basically have nothing, why because of people like you, This is nasty....Westville...2 thumbs up for you!! you were smart to stay out of that bad deal....To the YMCA, you should have stayed where you were.

  • Rebecca
    May 22, 2013 - 14:32

    wasn't it November when the center opened? that makes it in the hole 3/4's of a Million Dollars after only being open 6 months-amazing huh,and they already know next year ( or 6 months) it will be double that,how can any of the Municipal Leaders face the public after this disgrace?Maybe they can ask "The Duff" for a loan !!

    • dawn
      May 22, 2013 - 14:37

      its a predicted short fall for the year 2012-2013 not 6 months

  • Maria
    May 22, 2013 - 14:32

    If the town wants people to understand the wellness centre and the Y are not the same. Stop putting pictures of the Y in the paper representing the wellness centre. The Y only rents out the space from the wellness centre..

    • King Cole
      May 23, 2013 - 01:30

      While I am sure the town appreciates you recognizing the difference between the Wellness Centre and the Y please recognize the difference between the town and the newspaper. The News choose what picture to put with the article not the town (or towns, or County)

  • Just another voice not heard
    May 22, 2013 - 13:52

    No Mr Cullen, you sir would be wrong. The people of this County were unwillingly forced into an agreement to take care of financing that building, and they did just that. Now you're falling short. Your problem, not the peoples'....y'all figure it out yourselves. As far as the Center only being used to 42% of it's capacity, rather than 90%.......wouldn't it be smart to go to any lengths possible to correct that first?

  • dawn
    May 22, 2013 - 13:50

    Close Stellarton rink already, why put offthe inevitable, there is more ice rental revenue.

    • kevin
      May 23, 2013 - 00:31

      Pretty sure stellerton made more money then the wellness centre....

  • swchks
    May 22, 2013 - 13:49

    Well, well...Wellness Center indeed! Opened only last NOVEMBER & already in a financial crises?? What does this tell you about who really wanted this place ? Where did the consultants' planning go? Perhaps The Old YMCA wasn't sooo bad after all...isn't it a bit too much to ask folks (esp youth) trying to keep fit, to take out a full membership in order to use the pool??? What about the punch pass?? Would a few $$$ not be better than no $$$ to encourage fitness? I DO understand there are 2 separate entities here, but are they not both about promoting wellnwss? Good luck will never carry this facility into the future...it needs good management!

    • Hi
      May 24, 2013 - 23:27

      I suppose you've got your PhD in business administration, right rika? And I suppose your likely an economist on the side as well, eh? Nobody said it's in a financial crisis, it's completely covered. Maybe you should google some of the terms used in the article. I'd like to see a business of this size that doesn't come out with a deficit after year 1..you know why? its nearly impossible! God I wish they offered basic economics in school when you people went.

  • watrchdog
    May 22, 2013 - 13:04

    how many readers have read about the rise and fall of the"Roman Empire"? just take a look at the Colesseum in Rome or should I say the remains of the Roman Colleseum. It is amazing how much history repeats itself and that "man" never learns from his mistakes. The population like in Rome in this area is suffering from job loss and have tomove away for jobs and young families can not afford to establish themselves here any more. The population in Pictou County has remained stable for over a hundred years but now is in a state of decline, schools are closing and the average age is increasing. Such a facility as the one located on Westville Road was poorly concieved and it appears to be a hole for tax money. I personaly do not know how a facility that requires paid membership should be allowed to siphon of municipal funds. you may say it is only the YMCA that requires paid membership but that is splitting hairs. All forms of government are saying people are too far in debt and saying people should learn to live within their means. This athletic center should also live with in its as well. It should have not been built until such time as monies were set aside to cove all possible debt and operating expenses. The entire concept lack a multi-use purpose and potential to be selfsupporting. Being in a hurry mistakes are made and foresight is not in the picture. Too many time myself I have been a victim of my own poor planning, but then again I am not a professional nor an academic. We need industry and improved medical facility' hospital and many other things in this area before this capital outlay.

  • Statement
    May 22, 2013 - 12:35

    Well it is funny that the Wellness Centre can turn business down like customers asking to buy punch cards that don't want to become a member for different reasons at this time. And it really makes me upset that you can force people to the forced 1% title transfer on house deeds, it is a little like communism. It is all about choice I thought. You have to pay this if you use the Centre or not????

    • Lee
      May 22, 2013 - 13:37

      Once again, that's the YMCA who doesn't sell punch cards, not the Wellness Centre. They are not the same thing. I agree though, those punch cards would sure come in handy as I only want to swim and refuse to buy a membership to the YMCA for that. Hello Fisheries Pool!

  • Realist
    May 22, 2013 - 12:28

    That Peter McKay is such a swell guy! What a great gift to Pictou County! There is no greater gift than the gift that keeps....taking, and taking and taking. This is your CONservative government at work folks. The Wellness Center was built through taxpayer money and once it bankrupts the county will be sold to private interests and run on a for profit model. On a side note, I thought this was supposed to be built mainly to provide Pictou County with a large stadium for entertainment and sporting events. The end result is very disapointing. Why two small arenas? If there were simply on large area with between 4 and 5 thousand seats I think this facility could easily recoup its costs. But nope, somebody dropped the ball on that one. People in PC better start dipping their hands in tree sap because they drop the ball every chnce they get. Next blunder will be building the prison with 3 foot high perimeter fences as a cost saving measure!

    • Ken J.
      May 23, 2013 - 04:23

      Dear realist (& Bob) I have read a lot of stupid comments and letters over the years, but yours takes the cake. How can you possibly blame Peter MacKay?? It's not his doing, it's all the local mayors and councillors brainwaves. Peter has brought over a half a billion dollars to P.C, how much have the other 2 parties brought here? they have brought nothing but higher taxes, user fees, power, electricity, gas and slash and guts while doling out hundreds of millions to their rich corporate friends while starving out the small people outside of Halifax. Peter has brought money to that place, not taken it, all with no thanks to you and your votes or donations. Thankfully we have that party trying to fix the mess left by the entitled to their entitlements Liberals and their mountain of destruction and corruption, all the while supported by the socialist left wing ndp.

  • Mark Thibeau
    May 22, 2013 - 11:43

    I ,like many others, had to pay a 1% deed transfer tax to pay for this elite money pit. I'm still waiting for my thankyou card!

    • Jay
      May 22, 2013 - 15:47

      I want my 1% back. I could have done alot of good things with that money. Like paid lawyer fees or did some house upgrades. I couldn't care less for the Wellness Centre.

  • Don
    May 22, 2013 - 11:34

    .Wow... After all the fundraiser, donations, lotteries and the forced 1% title transfer on house deeds, and oh yea the paid memberships, they are going broke after only a year. Sounds like it was not a well thought out plan, they bit off more than they could chew and possible mismanagement. If it was a business that employed many people and brought revenue to the county they would let it close like Trenton works, maritime steel and a few other companies in the county but since it is a government sanction business they will probably raise our taxes to keep it afloat….

    • Lee
      May 22, 2013 - 12:05

      Memberships are for the YMCA, not the Wellness Centre. There are 2 facilities in one here but people seem to have a hard time understanding that. The YMCA leases their space from the Wellness Centre, they are not one and the same.

  • Jotham B.
    May 22, 2013 - 11:33

    This really shows how our way of developing these projects is flawed. The whole community should have been in a discussion about what the needs were in terms of sporting facilities. Then a plan developed from there. Not these consultations everyone bandies about, but real conversations with community members. But instead some folks thought that might take too much time or were in a rush to get a grant. And of course there are those who might think they know what's best for everyone. But these decisions take time, patience, and good listening skills. But we all get a better result. Maybe we can remember that for the next project?

  • tax payer
    May 22, 2013 - 11:32

    If I have to pay another cent to this place I'm moving. I wasn't for it to begin with, I do not use it (nor do I intend to), and I already paid my 1% - which was highly irritating at the time. The forecasters made a major mistake by assuming it would be at 90% capacity with the prices they are charging for a membership. We did not and will not have the population to sustain this center. Let it close and help small business owners instead.

  • Hank Hill
    May 22, 2013 - 11:23

    At least we aren't stuck with a convention centre like Halifax

  • master corporal raymond roach
    May 22, 2013 - 10:52

    I feel that the municipalities should not be at fault for this, however the wellness centre reps them self are, they should do more as to get out and talk to business and offer a corporate member ship, something like 3 days a week weight room , pool 2 times a week etc, lay out a program to keep congestion down and offer a 12 dollar employee fee per pay and the company pays 6 a pay for the membership, its a tax right of for the company but at companies like sobeys and the hospital and the reserve units, it would be easy to get people paying to come at 1115 people over 5 years at thoose prices would bring in 2.5 million in revenue, i just think there lazy myself and work for the wellness centre in order to have a job and free memberships, i honestly dont beleive they care. not one bit. an inshape employee and less likely to obtain injury call in sick, and if all of someones employees had memberships it would build moral in the work place, and give them something else to do besides drugs and drinking!

  • Bob in N.S.
    May 22, 2013 - 10:47

    There is much more to this story than my comment but i find it extremely funny that those at the helm of this needless enterprize find the utility costs are rather high. After saying this,I must ask the old question,what planet are they from. Anyone with a wit of business sense would know the costs involved with operating this center would be through the roof.Are they versed in business operating procedures,or do they just know enough to extract large salaries form a failure?

  • bandit
    May 22, 2013 - 10:28

    Hey Truro/Colchester County - is this an isolated issue with Pictou County or will taxpayers here be dancing to the same tune in the near future at our RECC Centre Sorry the pot is empty - users, not taxpayers must carry the load. Make it self-supporting or close the doors

  • jason blake
    May 22, 2013 - 09:28

    the wellness centre is not big enough.they only have the ice surface and the bbcourt there needs to be more .with the ice comming out in june .it might b a great idea to put in roller blading and floor hockey .or a tennis courts.it is a wonderful new building .that should be all used up in different fun and healthy things to do all year ..and there will be added expense with all new buildings for the first few years..eight skating rinks in a few small towns is away to many.the town of westvill eshould be included in the up keep of this building alot of westville people are also members of it.so why not pay there fair share.

    • spookyduke
      May 22, 2013 - 18:34

      Just a comment to Jason Blake in regard to Westville not paying their fair share. The town of Westville does not own or pay into the Westvile rink so why should they pay for the new wellness center.

  • questions
    May 22, 2013 - 09:12

    So is the Pictou County Wellness Centre Building Authority's financial responsibility amongst municipal units divided based on tax base or population? It is the population that will drive the usage of the facility. But it is the tax base which will pay for it. So which is it? Also, why is Westville not part of this?????? I know many folks from Westville who go to the rink and pool and gym. Everyone in the county should be forced to be part of this, one way or another.

    • craig
      May 22, 2013 - 12:50

      The people of Westville are the smart ones. Walking = burnt calories Wellness centre = burnt money

    • Ed Joyce
      May 25, 2013 - 06:19

      Everyone should be forced to pay???? Are you crazy? This is not a communist country, nobody should be forced to pay for anything they do not want, or will never use.

  • isitanywunder
    May 22, 2013 - 08:48

    is it any wonder why the White Elephant is in the hole? the only people who wanted this monsrosity were either the MukieMuks or the Elite,and now that they have it,less than half of them support it regulary,the big picture from the wording now is,Which two rinks go under the firing pin first? The Municipality would not listen to the "lil" guy who didn't want it then and still doesn't want it now,the proof is in the numbers. Scrap it and face the music or else keep putting taxes up to pay for it,Yea Right!!!!

    • Stop the deed transfer tax now
      May 23, 2013 - 08:02

      STOP THE DEED TRANSFER TAX IMMEDIATELY. YOU ARE KILLING THE REAL ESTATE MARKET TOO. People, please petition for this. Someday you will be trying to sell your home or trying to buy one.