RAISIN REGION HERITAGE CENTRE
Council and staff are currently reviewing all potential options for the future of the Raisin Region Heritage Centre. The goal now is to offer members of the public and key stakeholders the opportunity to review all of the background information that has been researched and offer any suggestions, comments, or potential options that could be considered.
OVERVIEW OF THE CURRENT SITUATION
The following report was approved at a regular meeting of Council on February 19, 2019. The reports suggests that the Township seek further input from the community before any recommendations are made for the future of the Heritage Centre, it also provides a brief outline of the current state of the building and some of the research and subsequent work that has been done in recent years to ensure the health and safety of those who might be approaching the building and/or occupying the building.
The research provides a number of immediate concerns with the current state of the building, realistic options for future use of the facility, and the potential liability to the Township;
- This Township owned facility is landlocked by the surrounding property that is owned by the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (CDSBEO).
- There is an easement from the street that provides the Township access to the facility, however, due to obvious safety concerns for the children attending this school, the Township and other users have limited access during school hours.
- Since the closure of the SD&G Library branch in St. Andrews West, the only use for the facility was as a headquarters for the Cornwall Township Historical Society (CTHS). Prior to the Township temporarily closing the building in 2017, the CTHS were using the facility to host 6 official meetings per year and as a museum for 6 Sundays per year.
- Staff has researched a number of grant opportunities to offset any potential renovations, however these attempts are non-existent without first demonstrating that there is a clear business plan that outlines the current need and the future sustainability that such renovations will provide.
WHAT OPTIONS HAVE BEEN RESEARCHED
Since 2017, the concern and subsequent minor repairs performed were to ensure the health and safety of those who might be exposed to the exterior of the building, while minimizing the exposure and liability of the Township. In order to investigate initial options without spending a substantial amount of money, staff was able to obtain the services of an engineer firm and a contractor to help compile some of the following options;
1. SELL THE BUILDING/PROPERTY
The Township has made an official offer to sell the building to the CDSBEO (School Board) or to purchase land from them to provide more access to the Township owned property. The CDSBEO has provided a letter to the Township expressing that there is no interest in acquiring the facility or selling land at this time.
The Township has received an unofficial request from a local resident expressing the desire to purchase the building. The Township is currently researching potential liability, environmental, and community safety concerns with regards to the option of a private sale.
The CDSBEO has expressed concerns regarding the private sale of the facility and the potential negative impact that could have on the safety of their students and staff.
2. RENOVATION OF THE BUILDING
- In 2017 staff hired an engineering firm to produce a “Preliminary Class D Estimate” to renovate the building.
- The report clearly indicates that there is many factors that could negatively impact the estimate.
- The estimate DOES NOT include any specific interior tenant upgrades, second floor and basement upgrades to meet building code for washrooms, kitchen upgrades, heritage building considerations, heat supply and repair to third floor, general building exiting to meet building code, fire protection and fire alarm systems, fire separation measures, implication of potential multiple occupancies, parking, security system, protection of building perimeter from the school yard, lighting protection system, accessibility standards, etc.
- The Class D Estimate to repair the building and safely open the facility for use on the main level is $541,616.00 (excluding applicable taxes).
- To obtain a more accurate estimate the Township would need to budget a significant amount for professional fees to obtain an estimate that would include all of the costs that were not provided in this initial report.
- In 2018 staff met with members of the CTHS. Following a review of all the background information and land restrictions the two groups were not able to produce any realistic option for future use of the facility.
3. DEMOLITION OF THE BUILDING
- In 2018 staff obtained the services of a contractor to provide a budgetary quote in order to provide options for demolition of the building.
- The quote for demolition included mandatory abatement of all items listed in the Designated Substance Report, removal of building, removal of foundation, additional clean fill, site grading and landscaping, with the total cost being $698,800.00 (excluding applicable taxes).
- The quote did not account for any building permits, compaction testing, environmental testing, removal of any contaminated soils, removal of any fuel tanks, relocation of hydro lines, etc.
- There is a also a Heritage Designation By-Law that would need to be reviewed and followed prior to moving forward with this option.
WHAT IS NEXT?
Public Information Session/Feedback
The Township hosted a public information session on Wednesday, April 17, 2019. Staff made a brief presentation and residents were provided the opportunity to ask questions and give suggestions on the future of the building. Residents were also encouraged to visit the website for more information and to send any additional comments to the Director of Parks and Recreation.
Research and Reporting
Staff presented a Key Information Report to Council at a Committee of the Whole meeting on October 30, 2019. The report provided an overview of the situation and Council directed staff to continue researching options and working with the CDSBEO to ensure that any current safety concerns are being met.
Staff met with the CDSBEO on November 7, 2019 to review the options for the property and tour the outside of the facility. Township will be adding additional fencing around the perimeter of the building in order to increase safety of students and staff.
Staff presented further research options to Council during budget deliberations in a special Council Meeting on November 16, 2019.