The town needs a new municipal garage to house its fleet of trucks, plows and other equipment, and provide a safe place for staff to work indoors and hold training sessions. The present building on Main Street is no longer adequate and renovating it to meet present and future needs is not possible.
Council has two options to choose from, either build a new facility next to the municipal snow dump at the intersection of Tupper Street and Spence Street, or renovate the old Hawkesbury Hydro garage on Tupper Street. A new building would cost about $7.25 million while renovating the old Hydro garage could cost about $5.5 million. A consultant’s report recommends building a new facility but not everyone on council is comfortable with that option and its price tag.
During council’s September 26 session, both councillors Yves Paquette and Robert Lefebvre expressed concern about the $2.5 million difference between renovating the old Hydro garage and building a new municipal garage. Paquette wondered whether the town could get some form of senior government grant to help with costs for renovations and Councillor Lawrence Bogue suggested that there might be financial aid through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ « green » infrastructure fund for projects that involve energy-efficiency features.
Lefebvre said that council needs to balance « pros and cons » of both options. He noted that the municipality would need to get a loan to help finance construction of a new building and could end up paying as much as $2 million in interest charges over the term of the loan.
« I would need more information, » Lefebvre said, before he could vote on either option.
Councillor Antonios Tsourounakis argued that too much delay on a decision could prove more expensive for the municipality.
« Look at what delay has cost us, » he said. « The procrastination that went on over time, we’re paying for it already. »
Tsourounakis cited the details in the report from LRL Associates Ltd., following the engineering consultant firm’s review of the existing municipal garage and the options it proposed for a new facility. »
LRL Associates Ltd. was contracted to do an assessment of the Main Street municipal garage and how well it could serve the town’s needs over the next five years. The review report stated the aging building « is no longer adequate » and would need « significant investment to demolish and reconstruct. » The report also noted that the building site itself is too small for any major expansion, is located next to a residential area, and also that the ground below and around the building itself would require environmental decontamination before any new construction could start.
The report noted that a future new municipal garage will need adequate garage and storage room for all the vehicles in the municipal fleet and other equipment, a safe work environment in both the garage and office space for the 16-member public works crew and the four department office staff, four drive-through maintenance bays and two drive-in/drive-out maintenance bays, with suitable garage doors, a high ceiling for proper vehicle maintenance work, an on-site salt dome for winter road maintenance, an on-site fuel storage depot, and other features.
LRL Associates Ltd. used The Nation’s municipal garage project in 2017 as a comparison example for features in a new facility for Hawkesbury. The cost for The Nation’s garage was $2.5 million, using construction materials and labour costs for that time. The consultant report noted that inflation since then would make Hawkesbury’s new municipal garage project more expensive, whether it involved constructing a new building or renovating an existing one.
The consultant report recommended Option 1, building a new garage on the vacant municipal land next to the snow dump at the intersection of Tupper Street and Spence Street. The new building design would meet all the public works diepartment’s needs and have easy access to the snow dump for winter road maintenance work. Construction of the facility would take between 16 to 18 months, with an estimated budget of $7.25 million dollars at current materials and labour costs.
Option 2 is for renovating the old Hawkesbury Hydro garage on Tupper Street. The task would require inspection of existing sewer and electrical systems to make sure they meet the needs for a municipal garage and could also involve reconstrucing part of the foundation for an addition to the existing building. Renovating the Hydro garage could take between 11 to 13 months and cost an estimated $5.5 million based on current materials and labour costs.
The report noted that renovating the old Hydro garage could still result in cramped conditions in future since the building would house both the public works department’s vehicles and those of Hawkesbury Hydro.
« I like to save money, » said Councillor Tsourounakis, « but sometimes you have to look at the total cost over the lifetime of the project to see what the actual costs are going to be. »
He argued that renovating the old Hydro garage may not be the best option even though it seems cheaper.
« You’re not future-proofing yourself by trying to retrofit the older building, » he said.
Mayor Paula Assaly indicated support for Option 1 but also suggested that council schedule a special session to further discuss the matter and also allow administration to gather more information to help council make a decision.
Council agreed to table the subject for a future special meeting.