WHERE TO START – THE STATE OF THE CITY’S FACILITIES

Frank Doherty (New) Arena - $3,921,850 in repairs & upgrades

Frank Doherty (New) Arena – $3,921,850 in repairs & upgrades

The first two delegations at Council Tuesday evening, despite having different stated purposes, also had a common thread.

James Whyte (Old) Arena - $11,275,250 lower est. to replace

James Whyte (Old) Arena – $11,275,250 lower est. to replace – new twin-pad arena to replace both $26-$34 million

The first delegation that night consisted of members of the TAAA (Thorold Amateur Athletic Association). They were there to point out that that the recent arena study stated that Thorold needs two ice surfaces. They pointed out that the Old Arena will have to be demolished before long and urged Council to deal with the report, which had been shelved pending the 2015 budget process. They urged Council to start putting money aside so they’ll be able to act when the time comes.

Port Robinson Proud then started off by introducing themselves as a group of community activists in the historic village. They ended by showing a promotional video of Port Robinson, which you can see at https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ujy7Pjr9hrs although the City intends to get it up on their website. But the middle of their delegation was rundown of what’s being planned for the Darlene Ryan Port Robinson Community Centre. This portion included a plea to fix at least the roof of the Centre so that it can function for the residents.

Darlene Ryan Port Robinson Community Centre - $173,675

Darlene Ryan Port Robinson Community Centre – $173,675 in deferred work in 2014 ($133,200 in 2013)

In case you didn’t catch it, the common thread is the less than ideal condition of the City of Thorold’s buildings. Because of constant deferrals to keep taxes down as much as possible, the deterioration of these buildings has gotten to the point where some of them aren’t worth as much as their repairs. Deferred repairs on Chestnut Hall in 2014, for instance, had gone up by almost one third over the previous year.

Chestnut Hall (attached to Thorold Library) - $440,000 in deferred work (2014)

Chestnut Hall (attached to Thorold Library) – $440,000 in deferred work in 2014 ($335,000 in 2013)

The total in replacement costs, 2014 deferrals and repairs gleaned from the 2014 budget and various reports that came out over the past couple of years gives us a total of $24,924,950. That’s without factoring in any new repairs which may now be necessary. It also allows for the cheapest solutions and lowest estimated numbers where ranges are given. Some of these costs have been mitigated slightly by emergency work (mostly roofs) that had to be done by way of budget overruns, but then there are probably enough new costs to make up for them.

Council is faced with a monumental mess. During 2014 budget deliberations, Thorold’s CFO (Chief Financial Officer) stated that the City is not allowed to borrow enough to do all the work. And, should the Hydro Reserve be spent, it would be necessary to first pay off the debts that are effectively being serviced by the interest from the Reserve, leaving little money to do anything.

But that doesn’t mean it’s insurmountable. The feds will be going into an election next year and will be looking to buy votes so it’s possible that Thorold can manage to snag some grants if they’re “shovel ready”. They might also have to make some hard decisions, such as selling properties or temporarily doing without a second arena.

These decisions will certainly be some of the greatest tests for the new Council and it will be interesting to see what they do. These issues can’t be put off much longer.

Allanburg Community Centre - $215,425 in deferred work (2014)

Allanburg Community Centre – $215,425 in deferred work in 2014 ($142,725 in 2013)

Thorold Fire Station #1 - $3,030,000 to replace (deferred since mid-'90s)

Thorold Fire Station #1 – $3,030,000 to replace (deferred since mid-’90s)

Operations Centre - $5,856,250 to replace

Operations Centre – $5,856,250 to replace

Lock 7 Tourism Viewing Complex - $12,500 in deferred work (2014)

Lock 7 Tourism Viewing Complex – $12,500 in deferred work in 2014 ($6,500 in 2013)

4 thoughts on “WHERE TO START – THE STATE OF THE CITY’S FACILITIES

  1. The cost of the operations center can be reduced by eliminating a lunch room for all “outdoor” City employees to return to for breaks and lunch meals during the work day. Make them carry their food with them and eat at the work site…like REAL working people do!!!

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      • OUTDOOR employees whose job REQUIRES them to travel around to various OUTDOOR job sites during the day, should not be allowed/or be paid to drive City Trucks back to the Operations Center for lunch (using 1 hour and 30 minutes of the working day) and every morning and afternoon break (using 45 minutes for each break) That is 3 hours of the working day that they are being PAID to do NOTHING…not to mention all the unnecessary miles put on City vehicles and the associated costs of fuel, repairs, etc. The Niagara Parks Commission, for example, requires their OUTDOOR employees who travel to work sites along the Niagara Parkway, to carry their food and drinks with them. The City should have a minimum requirement that ALL City employees be required to do an HONEST days work for an HONEST days pay!!! Full time outdoor employees are paid $20 to $25+ per hour plus generous benefits. This is way too much to be paying grasscutters, for example. (Otherwise, how can I get one of those jobs…I have over 40 years of experience!!) It is time to SERIOUSLY examine all aspects of the City’s Operations and start privatizing some of them…on the top of the list should be grounds maintenance of parks.

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  2. There is no way that deferred work can logically increase by such high percentages in 1 year.. Time to re-tender them all…maybe give a chance to companies outside of the Niagara Region to be included in the bidding process. It seems that too many contractors are holding governments hostage by charging premium prices, just because it is a govt. job Does this sniff of possible collusion among bidders to anyone else???

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