Rideau Lakes municipal building under a potential retrofit microscope

Rideau Lakes municipal offices, Chantry.
The municipal offices of Rideau Lakes are located in Chantry. They have been here since the amalgamation of the township 26 years ago as a "temporary" solution to the office situation. Photo credit: Google screen grab.
Posted on: February 12, 2024

The municipal offices of the Township of Rideau Lakes are under the microscope again after Coun. Paula Banks brought forward a motion to the regular meeting of council on Feb. 5 to figure out what the future use of the Chantry building would be. 

After a lengthy discussion, the motion was defeated. 

Banks wanted to see a space needs assessment, retrofit potential, and or addition costing, accessibility requirements, occupational health and safety requirements, environmental impacts, and parking are just some of the items she’d like to see addressed. Her motion also sought $10,000 to get a professional opinion of the current office building, which was later amended as staff was tasked with the assignment.

Mayor Arie Hoogenboom rhymed off a list of studies done to date on the building, pulling from a stack of papers beside him. Those studies included a baseline property condition assessment in June of 2021, a mechanical/electrical assessment in July of 2021, a functional and code assessment in 2021, and a hazardous material survey in August of 2022. 

“I would suggest that money might be better spent in a couple of ways,” Hoogenboom said. “One of those opportunities may be to look at potential building sites, and another one might be just to wait.”

Hoogenboom said they just hired a new facilities manager who may be able to go through the building and “do some of that work in house in terms of satisfying the majority of council that we’ve done enough in terms of this building and is worthy of a retrofit or not.”

Coun. Jeff Banks said it was a good idea to take a look at the building and get some ideas. After four studies, what has been done to the building, he asked. “I’ve seen Saumures (Guy Saumure and Sons Construction Ltd. in Smiths Falls) polish a lot of buildings – some 100 times in worse shape than this one is and have done a good job on doing it.”

Deputy Mayor Linda Carr asked how much the four studies has cost the township.

The mayor said about $20,000, and there has been minimal work done on the building over the past few years. 

“Simply because the plan was at some point … if we are to replace the building (we’re) not going to try and spend a lot of money patching up things (we) can make do with for a year or two,” Hoogenboom said.

Carr said with the four studies that have been done, perhaps someone can put them all together and come up with a proposition as to what would work needs to be done. “I can’t see why we’re spending all this money on four studies, that’s beyond me.”

“This issue was obviously one for the last council and they wanted to do those studies to get an assessment as to whether the building is worth saving,” Hoogenboom said. “My point is that staff has looked it repeatedly and come up with the same conclusion.”

Veteran councillor Ron Pollard said there was extensive electrical work done inside the municipal office to accommodate the offices as it was to be a temporary home for staff following the amalgamation of five townships 26 years ago. Furnaces were upgraded and work was done on the roof, “because at one time there were pails sitting all around,” he said. “It should not be taken down as far as I’m concerned. It can be turned back into garages to put some of the equipment in.”

Banks said she didn’t realize there were four studies already done, but that “not fixing this building is not an option. I just don’t want it to sit here and not fix it when we have been raked over the coals since May on how terrible the conditions are here and how unsafe it is. I’ve never seen any proof of that – other than people’s comments and that bothers me.”

Coun. Marcia Maxwell said she wasn’t sure why council was discussing the issue now when it was on the draft capital budget which they haven’t finished yet. 

“I don’t agree with only looking to renovate here,” she said, as the original plan for municipal offices was to have a building in a community with other amenities, “and I do think the staff would appreciate that.”

Maxwell said at a visioning exercise in Elgin it was brought up that they would love to have the municipal offices in that village. 

“I think we need to keep our minds open,” she said. “This isn’t the time to be spending money on this.”

Staff will bring back a report to council by May of this year on the future use of the Chantry municipal offices. In a recorded vote, the motion was defeated. Yes votes came from councillors Paul Banks, Jeff Banks, Sue Dunfield, and Hoogenboom. Voting no were Carr, Pollard, Maxwell, Coun. Joan Delaney, while Coun. Deborah Anne Hutchings abstained (which would be a negative vote).

Hometown News
Author: Hometown News

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