New Portland Municipal Hub receives green light from Council

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Posted on: December 15, 2021

At their December 13 meeting, Rideau Lakes Council provided approval to proceed with the new municipal hub in the village of Portland.  The decision followed two years of work and consultation with the community and detailed financial modeling to ensure the project would have no impact on tax rates.

The hub, to be built in Portland, will be centrally located within the Township.  It will include a replacement community hall, a relocated library branch and relocated Township administrative offices.  

Co-locating the uses on one site provides significant cost savings over building separate facilities.  This is achieved through sharing common elements such as meeting rooms, washrooms, kitchen, parking etc.  

Council had previously made the decision to reuse the current community hall site on Water St. for the new development along with the adjoining Shire property, purchased in 2005, for future needs.  These decisions followed engineering assessments of the current community hall in 2016 and 2017, which illustrated the building had reached the end of its useful life and needed to be fully overhauled or replaced.  A subsequent costing revealed that rehabilitating the century-old structure, which is two storeys and inaccessible, would be comparable to building new.

The local branch library is currently in a leased space, costing $21,000 annually.  The administrative functions of the municipality have been in a converted public works garage in Chantry since amalgamation (1998).  A facility and space needs assessment revealed that Chantry requires major investment and expansion to continue to serve this purpose.

These factors culminated in a decision to move forward with the estimated $5.8 million dollar investment in a new municipal hub facility.  

This investment in Portland will drive village renewal and increase economic opportunity.  Recent similar investments by the Township, such as moving the O.P.P. detachment to the village, have played a part in driving private investment and new business openings.  

The community hub model is the most cost-efficient means to provide community space and services.  Investments in community hubs have already been made across the Township, including in North Crosby (Shillington), Elgin, and are underway in South Elmsley (Ronald E Holman Municipal Complex).

The architectural firm +VG has been working with the community and the Township over the past year to refine the concept plans and ensure the project is compatible with the village setting and will function on the site.

The need for a municipal hub had been previously identified in the 2015 Strategic Plan, along with village renewal, economic development and financial sustainability.

An accompanying report from the Treasurer detailed how prudent financial management over the past 8 years has positioned the Township to be able to make this investment with no impact to the tax rate.  As past long-term debt, used to make past investments in road and facility upgrades, comes to an end in the 2023-2027 period, funds will become available for this project, in addition to providing $1.2 million annually for other capital needs and service enhancements.  With this investment, the Township continues to be on its path to financial sustainability by 2025, while maintaining one of the lowest tax rates in the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville.

Following the decision, Mayor Hoogenboom remarked “I am very pleased that Council has decided to advance this project.  We have done our homework and financial modeling.  While a significant investment, it provides considerable savings over building individual facilities, and is comparable to investments we would need to make to maintain the status quo.  With that in mind we have decided to invest in Portland’s future, as we have done in each community across our wonderful Township.”

Next steps in the process include developing detailed designs for the facility in consultation with stakeholders and issuing a tender for construction in 2022.  The current community hall in Portland will also be demolished in 2022, with a transition plan developed to ensure all users of the current hall continue to have access to community spaces while the new facility is being developed in 2023.

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Hometown News
Author: Hometown News