Structural repairs required to allow the Champlain Library building in Vankleek Hill to reopen to the public have been completed and the library will reopen as soon as COVID-19 public health measures allow.

At its March 11, 2021, regular meeting, Champlain council voted to approve ongoing repairs estimated at $454,000, which were outlined in one of two reports on the structural condition of the Champlain Library. A 35-page report from April 2019 by EVB Engineering was accompanied by a second 75-page structural condition assessment undertaken by architect Pierre J. Tabet, at the request of Lascelles Engineering and Associates.

The reports outlined numerous safety and deterioration issues with the brick-facade two-storey building located at 94 Main Street East in Vankleek Hill. The building was constructed in 1856. Primary deficiencies noted in the reports included deterioration of the exterior bricks (repaired in 2019 at a cost of $65,000), multiple fire safety issues and some structural and foundation problems.

According to Zoe Fortin, Communications Specialist for Champlain Township, while some work still remains to be done on the structure, the repairs required to address safety issues which prevented the building from opening have been addressed.

All structural work was completed and approved by EVB Engineering during 2021, including the CBO on all three floors – the basement, library main floor, and second floor Masonic Lodge. Asbestos abatement has also been completed throughout the building, as well as finishing work in the library itself, which is now ready for public use. A temporary alarm system was also installed and the structure’s roof has been re-insulated.

In 2022 plans are to complete the finishing of the Masonic Lodge, as well as replace all of the inside doors with ones which are fire-retardant. A centralized fire alarm system linked to all three floors will be installed, and the basement will be fireproofed using fire-resistant drywall.

Fortin said a decision on when to reopen the library will depend on the status of Ontario’s COVID-19 public health measures.