Rideau Lakes to have another look at salvaging Chantry municipal offices

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 25, 2024


If at first you don’t succeed with a motion, try, try again. 

Coun. Paula Banks brought another motion to the table of the municipal services committee of Rideau Lakes on Feb. 20 asking fellow councillors to move forward with having a deeper dive into what it would take to salvage the municipal offices in Chantry.

She last brought a motion forward to council on Feb. 5, but that one was defeated. 

“If we can’t even look after the assets we have now, why are we getting new ones,” she said. “That’s where I struggle. I firmly believe this office can be salvageable and made into a nice offices for staff that they will enjoy.”

Mayor Arie Hoogenboom said, “Providing direction to staff to RFP (request for proposal) a renovation of a building before you determine what might be required in terms of that renovation. I’m not saying that I would be against a renovation of this building, I’m simply saying I don’t know what would be required and what would be the best route to go if we were going to renovate this building.”

The first part of the motion was “wonderful,” the mayor said, as it gets the process moving forward. 

“But to tell the staff to RFP this before the end of the year is my view is completely premature.”

Banks shot back: “I feel the majority of council should be deciding what happens with this facility … we can decide, after August, once we hear from (the CAO) and (the facilities and parks manager), this is what we’re going to do and this is what we need, we can decide at that point.”

Banks’ motion was to lay out a timeline, she said, “to get an answer before we become a lame duck.”

She said she hoped to move it forward without amendments, as it will “get muddy.”

“We have dragged this on for four terms of council,” Banks said, regarding what to do with the Chantry municipal offices. 

“How can you fix the building when you don’t even know what’s wrong with it?” she asked.

Even though the four consultant reports came to the public, Banks charged she didn’t know about them: “Most of council didn’t even know there were four reports,” she said. “I didn’t know. The public didn’t know.”

The mayor said if they didn’t know, “they didn’t do their research.”

Treasurer Cynthia Leprade said there was money in the budget this year to do the study, and once that has taken place, “then the decision can be made by council.”

Coun. Deborah Anne Hutchings said she’d like to know how much money has been spent on these four reports. As a new councillor, she noted, “I can’t possibly go looking through all the reports to see what I’m missing. It’s just too much. And why wasn’t this done a long time ago? It’s only good business to look to see what you need to go forward with what you’ve got to do. It shouldn’t be on me to have a bunch of bullies start yelling at me and emailing me about nothing,” she said, and added that they should fix what they already have. 

“That’s the responsible thing to do instead of letting the stuff fall down,” she said. 

Hoogenboom said a majority of the reports were done three or four years ago and the question is what is still relevant or what needs to be updated.

Doing something entirely different than retrofitting is a 2026 prospect, the mayor said. 

“Let’s not go there,” he said when asking staff to stick to a strick timeline as outlined in the motion. “Let’s wait to see what the staff have to say before we tell them what we want.”

Coun. Sue Dunfield also felt that council has sat on this decision “for far too long,” as she’d like to see a 2025 start, not 2026. 

“There are some things that need to be done here,” she said, as the noted she’d spent 15 years in the building as an employee. She said the lunchroom was small and she had the odd spider, but “never had a mouse run across my foot. Let’s not postpone this. Let’s get our act together and get this done.”

Coun. Joan Delaney said she agreed with having staff come back with recommendations on what the building needs. 

“I don’t like the assumption that we’re necessarily going to have the offices here,” she said. “We’ve talked about it for years. We haven’t been sitting on our butts. The original plan, when this public works garage was taken over, (in 1998 after amalgamation), it was going to be temporary … let’s not assume it’s going to be here in Chantry.”

Delaney said she felt the offices should be in a settlement area. 

“I can’t support the motion as it is with all the extra (timelines) that are included,” she said.

Coun. Marcia Maxwell said they looked at retrofitting the building during the consultation and design phase of the Portland Hub project where it was anticipated the municipal offices would be located. 

She said it was decided that the Chantry offices were not able to be renovated, partly because of the location and that the building is 45 years old. “By the time we get to doing anything with it it’s going to be 50 years old.”

Maxwell said the offices do need to be in a more built-up location, centrally located.

“Here, this place could still be used – either torn down and rebuilt into a garage. We’re not going to be leaving staff here. We do need a location; we’ve got equipment sitting in MTO parking lots because we haven’t got a place for them. We could have the garages here and have them inside out of the weather and have the offices with the office staff in a central place.”

There is $15,000 in the budget to look at this, “so I don’t know why we’re even wasting our time on this,” Maxwell said. 

The motion: for staff to take aggressive action to address the Chantry offices during this term of council prior to August 2024, that staff complete the following: 

  • The CAO work with staff and council to establish future office requirements; 
  • The manager of facilities and parks review all four reports and prepare a report for council identifying current building deficiencies so that council can develop and RFP to retrofit and enlarge the Chantry offices to have tender ready drawings for January 2025 or sooner. 
  • That the treasurer takes into account the $3 million to $4 million that will be required to borrow to complete this project along with all other financial obligations when setting the amortization for the new firehall and Portland hall/library.

In a recorded vote, the motion was carried. Those voting for included: Councillors Paula and Jeff Banks, Hutchings, Dunfield and Deputy Mayor Linda Carr; those against were Hoogenboom, Delaney, Maxwell and Coun. Ron Pollard.

Hometown News
Author: Hometown News