By Barb McKay
Kincardine’s municipally-owned buildings will cost a small fortune to renovate, but council isn’t ready to spend the money yet.
After receiving the results of design feasibility studies and condition reports on the Kincardine Centre for the Arts, the Annex and the Whitney Crawford Community Centre from NA Engineering mayor Larry Kraemer scoffed at the cost estimates and suggested that councillors should tour the facilities themselves.
Deputy mayor Anne Eadie suggested that it is time to consider selling some municipal buildings.
The Arts Centre, which recently underwent an exterior renovation at a cost of $1 million (along with two thirds funding from the provincial and federal government), is in need of extensive interior repairs and improvements. The basement of the building was recently closed to tenants because mold was discovered.
The engineer’s report indicates the Arts Centre needs mold remediation; new floors, plumbing lines and fixtures; HVAC upgrades; a new sink in the Scougall Gallery; energy efficient lighting; repairs to walls and ceilings; and a boot tray at the main entrance. The estimated cost for the work, to be completed over a five-year period, is $507,000, plus taxes. The amount does not account for work that would need to done to the basement floor after the mold abatement; at a cost of $200,000 to $300,000.
The Annex building, at the corner of
Operators of the Whitney Crawford Community Centre (WCCC) in Tiverton have stated that because the building lacks accessible washroom facilities and a dishwasher in the kitchen it has been a challenge to rent out the space for functions. Engineers provided three options for renovating and improving the WCCC.
The first options limited work to repairs and upgrades to the existing building, including replacement of flooring, wainscoting, the hot water tank, furnaces, oil tanks and plumbing lines and fixtures and upgrades to the fire alarm system and electrical systems. The work is budgeted at $280,000, plus taxes, and doesn’t include a washroom expansion.
The second option includes the above mentioned work, along with a building expansion of roughly 700 square feet to increase the size of the washrooms, as well as the bar area to make room for a dishwasher.
That project is estimated to cost $680,176, plus taxes. A third option would be to replace the building at a cost of roughly $926,000 plus $25,000 to $35,000 for demolition.
“I think a lot of these numbers, particularly around the Annex are shocking to us,” said Kraemer. He suggested that council take a walk through each of the buildings with the engineer to get a better feel for the conditions of the buildings.
Councillor Jacqueline Faubert said the municipality has known for a long time that the buildings’ interiors need work.
“I don’t think these numbers are shocking,” she said. “I’m in the Arts Centre on a regular basis and we’ve heard from the Whitney Crawford Community Centre several times.”
Councillor Ken Craig reminded council that much of the work can’t even be considered until the 2013 budget.
“We don’t have money in the budget we have now for any kind of significant improvements,” he said.
Eadie said the municipality needs to take a hard look at whether it can even afford to keep all of its old buildings.
“Maybe it makes more sense to fix the buildings we really want to keep and maybe sell a couple.”
Representatives for two of the buildings were at last week’s meeting to make a case for improving the facilities. Marilyn Clarke, from the Bluewater Summer Playhouse, and Bonnie Bryan, from the Kincardine Theatre Guild, said minor improvements have been made the Arts Centre, but the condition of the overall interior remains deplorable.
“We appreciate that the engineer’s report is complete and we need to move forward,”
Clarke said tenants of the building have discovered new issues. Mold has begun forming in the Scougall Gallery and a pungent smell emulating from the upstairs men’s washroom indicates that there is a problem there.
The tenants noted that prior to the mold problem storage and change rooms were located in the basement of the Arts Centre. The space is not usable, but when it was in use it wasn’t practical, Clarke said. Heavy set pieces had to be carried from the basement to the top floor of the facility, where the theatre is housed. A better option, the tenants suggested, would be build out the back of the theatre and put storage and change rooms on the top floor. They also recommended that an elevator be installed.
Barring that option, Clarke said, the entire interior of the building should be gutted; which would allow the municipality to maintain the heritage of the building’s exterior.
“When we look at our summers and winters there are a lot of tourists who come through that building,” Clarke said. “We are an important member of the community and we want to be a proud member and be able to show our building off.”
Recreation director Karen Kieffer, who has been working closely with tenants, and Faubert, told council that a solution for storage and costume change space needs to be worked out now. Dress rehearsals for the Kincardine Theatre Guild’s production of South Pacific begin in early November. Municipal staff recommended that Kincardine rent a trailer for the theatre group during the production.
Kraemer, however, said council shouldn’t act too hastily.
“I don’t think we have enough information to deal with this,” he said.
“We did it for the medical centre,” Faubert countered.
Kraemer said he didn’t want to approve the mold abatement that was estimated at $100,000, “when our staff occupied the building for so long without a problem. I don’t know what’s changed.”
Council decided to schedule a special meeting in the near future to further discuss the options for the buildings and consider the financial implications.