In the lead-up to a decision on the town’s 2014 budget, administrative staff at the Town of St. Marys has brought to Town Council a number of capital projects for the next year, for potential inclusion in the document. Unfortunately, the amount of money available in the proposed budget may not be enough for all of them.
Barring any grants or alternative funding that may be obtained, some of the projects listed last week in a document entitled “2014 Capital Proposals” — provided to Council for its special budget meeting Tuesday, Jan. 21 — may have to be put off for at least a year.
According to CAO Kevin McLlwain, a few projects have already been green-lit for 2014. The town is set to purchase a new backhoe and sidewalk plow, and the reconstruction of Carrall Street will continue in the spring. The Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) has picked up the bulk of the tab for a new building automation system that will regulate heating in the Friendship Centre, but the town has agreed to make up the remainder of the cost up to $25,000; and renovations to the Town Hall’s bell tower, expected to cost $75,000, have not yet been ratified but McLlwain says they’re expected to be passed in the near future.
Some of the other major capital projects being proposed for 2014 are as follows:
• Repairs are needed on the retention wall and staircase connecting the Grand Trunk Trail with Lion’s Park. “There’s been some erosion, and parks and trails standards have changed since it was constructed,” explains McLlwain. “We’ll have to do something about it sooner or later.”
He adds: “If there are a lack of funds, it could wait a year…But it’d be tough to go past that.” The repairs are expected to cost around $70,000.
• A new, accessible playground for Cadzow Park has been in the works for a number of years but, due to budget constraints, has been continually put off. “It’s getting worn out,” says McLlwain of the current playground, adding that, like the Grand Trunk Trail stairs, safety standards for playgrounds have changed.
“But as long as the old set-up is existing, (the upgraded safety standards) don’t apply…Not until we upgrade.”
Asked what a pending decision about putting in a new playground at the park might mean for the future of Cadzow Pool, McLlwain stressed that the pool “is not under discussion right now at all.” The new playground is estimated to cost $150,000.
• The roof of the Old Water Tower needs replacing, but that may not be all the upkeep needed for the historical structure. Council is currently awaiting an inspection report, detailing any additional work that may need to be done.
“(The additional work) won’t be this year,” says McLlwain, adding that, should it be discovered that there’s a safety issue and emergency repairs are needed, the cost would come out of reserve funds.
As it stands, the roof alone would cost $75,000.
• The Pyramid Recreation Centre is in need of a new zamboni. Currently, the town owns two: one 10-year old machine and another that’s five years old. The new unit would replace the older machine.
• Lastly, Wellington, Elgin, and Warner Streets all need to be fully reconstructed, including watermains, storm drains, gutters, sidewalks, and resurfacing. The project has a current price tag of $210,000, and that’s just for the design work. Full reconstruction will cost much more. For example, Emily Street, which was redone in 2012, had a final cost of around $750,000.
• On top of these items, it has yet to be decided what’s to be done with the Water Street bridge. Complete replacement and redesign could cost $1.5 million. McLlwain explains that, should the bridge remain as it is, it would have to be modified to fully restrict vehicles weighing over five tonnes.
“People (were) not respecting the weight limit,” when it was open to vehicular traffic, he says. “And there’s a high risk when anything over five tonnes goes over it.”
He also notes that, should a modified bridge be re-opened, the frequency of inspections would have to increase. “They’re not the cheapest things either,” he says of the inspections.
McLlwain was hesitant to speculate on which of the proposed projects were likely to be approved and which might be put off; however, he points out that the sum of all proposed projects combined came out at almost $1.1 million, around $600,000 more than what’s expected to be available from the tax levy. He also observes that the current Council has shown to be resistant to taking on additional debt or decreasing reserve funds.
“There are definitely some decisions that have to be made,” he says.