Hawkesbury town council is debating whether to build a completely new municipal garage, or to renovate the mostly vacant Hydro Hawkesbury garage as the new home for the Department of Public Works.
A recommendation before council on September 12 called for the town to purchase 2.54 acres next to the adjacent snow dumping area at the corner of Tupper Street and Spence Avenue for the location of a new municipal garage. Due to the condition of the existing garage, located on Main Street beside the Ottawa River, the recommendation also called for a budget for the construction of a new garage at the snow dump to be established so construction may proceed in 2023. The proposal also asked for the bidding process to begin, so contractors may be selected to prepare plans and specifications for the new garage.
However, council decided on September 12 to table the recommendation to a future, special council meeting. Councillors want more information before proceeding and some want more consideration to be given to the option of renovating the Hydro Hawkesbury garage, which is located at the corner of Tupper and Tessier streets. The garage is available because the municipal power utility now has all its line maintenance work performed by a private contractor and no longer has its own line department and maintenance equipment.
A Building Condition Assessment prepared by LRJ Engineering on June 30, 2022, for the Town of Hawkesbury identifies numerous deficiencies with the current garage, including the condition of the building and insufficient space to accommodate large vehicles. LRJ was unable to determine when the Main Street garage was constructed. An Options Analysis performed by LRJ in August of 2022 indicates it would cost $7,245,000 to build a totally new garage, while it would cost $5,495,000 to renovate the hydro garage. However, LRJ favours constructing a completely new garage because it would give greater flexibility to include the functions required for the Department of Public Works to provide its services.
According to the LRJ analysis and a report prepared by Hawkesbury Director of Public Works and Engineering Jonathan Wilson, the price for a new garage is based on the $2,500,000 cost of the new municipal garage in La Nation, which was built in 2017. However, due to inflation, that price is now $7,245,000. Wilson’s report indicates financial support for a new garage is available from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) in the form of a 15 per cent grant and 85 per cent loan, or through a loan from Infrastructure Ontario, which is the provincial government’s public works financing authority.
Councillor Lawrence Bogue asked for more specific details on financial support from the FCM. Treasurer Philippe Timbers said the FCM has two different funds which offer financing and grant programs.
Councillor Yves Paquette said he completely supports having a garage where municipal employees can properly do their work, but is concerned about the cost of a completely new garage if grant funding is not available. Paquette asked if the existing hydro garage could be renovated.
Timbers said there would be challenges with building a new garage without grant funding.
“The engineers strongly recommended the construction of a new garage,” Mayor Paula Assaly commented.
The mayor described a new garage as the best decision for citizens and said she respects the conclusions of the studies.
Wilson said a new garage would provide the Department of Public Works with a centralized facility, with adequate space and storage. He said the Hydro Hawkesbury garage would require enlargement, but noted both options are feasible.
Councillor Antonios Tsourounakis referred to the increased estimate price based on the cost of the La Nation garage and said delays in developing a new garage in Hawkesbury have led to higher costs.
Councillor Robert Lefebvre said it is difficult to decide based on the original cost of the La Nation garage and weighing the benefits between renovating the hydro garage and building a completely new facility.
Assaly remarked that a completely new garage could serve the town’s needs for the next 50 years.
Paquette suggested taking an additional two weeks to consider the options and then decide at a special meeting.
Assaly agreed. Acting Chief Administrative Officer Samuel Cardarelli said the time could be used to obtain more complete information on options for the new municipal garage.