Mayor Makes Statement on City Hall Renovations

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Yesterday, City Council debated the replacement of the windows and cladding of the Civic Centre. I’m not surprised that this project has attracted quite a bit of public interest and that there are some misconceptions about why it is happening, which I would like to try to clear up.

To begin with, I want to make it clear that the renovations are not happening for aesthetic reasons. It’s being made because the current state of the windows and cladding present a health and safety issue. An asset review study that was done in 2014 recommended making the replacements as soon as possible, but no later than by 2018. It is a project that has to happen and we would be negligent to try and postpone it any longer.

The Civic Centre will be 42 years old this year and it is starting to feel the weight of those years. Extensive work was done on the roof last year. I think just about all of us understand that roofs wear out over time and eventually they have to be replaced. In this case, the replacement of the windows and cladding is similarly necessary.

It is also important to understand how will pay for the project. We are going to use long-term debt to pay for the majority of the costs to replace the windows and cladding. To me, this is a prudent decision because the City carries exceptionally low debt and we are still in a very favourable environment for interest rates. Furthermore, an annual stream of funding has already been identified within the 2017 budget to finance the loan. This project is not increasing the budget or increasing your taxes.

The City is required by the province to have an asset management plan. The plan guides how the City makes needed repairs and upgrades to its buildings and facilities over a 25-year horizon. There is an annual allocation within the budget (approximately $2.3 million) that funds the asset management plan. This is money that is used to make repairs, improvements, and replace equipment. A portion of this annual amount will be used to finance the loan.

The point I want to stress is this: if we did not have to replace the windows and cladding at the Civic Centre, the money in the budget that is going to finance the loan would be used for other projects and other repairs to City facilities, because that is its dedicated purpose. We would not have any additional money to lower property taxes or to provide extra services.

I know we are still in the midst of a difficult economic climate, so I understand some of the outcry about what the City’s “priorities” should be. However, to that I will say this: taking care of the things we own as a City has to be a priority too. Because I think experience has taught us by now that we don’t gain much by stalling decisions for another day. The options generally boil down to paying today or paying more in the future—and often suffering problems in between when we decide to kick things down the road.

Throughout this Council term, we’ve been looking for opportunities to divest the City of old buildings and property to thereby lower our asset management costs. Our recent decision with respect to the Steelton Seniors Centre is a good example.  By relocating the Steelton Seniors Centre (from an old, inaccessible building) to the fully-accessible Northern Community Centre, we have helped the City forego more than a million dollars in future renovation costs.

However, I don’t think it’s reasonable to suggest that our municipal government could function without a City Hall, so it is important that we commit enough funds to make sure the one we have stays in reasonably good working order. The building is, after all, a reflection of our community and as such we can’t let it fall into disrepair.

Lastly, I appreciate that some people are disappointed by the proposed change in the building’s look.  We have to keep in mind that over 40 years have elapsed since the cladding and windows were first installed.  Materials and technology changes and in this respect, Council has to defer to the architectural and engineering experts.  In the end, I am confident that we will have a visually appealing and modern looking building that will continue to be one of our city’s distinctive landmarks.

Mayor, Christian Provenzano

10 COMMENTS

  1. How come city employees seem immune to being laid off? Times are tough…taxes rising..perhaps taxpayers need a break in these rising costs. We never even hear of POSSIBLE layoffs.

  2. How come whatever city council decides on is never going to cost taxpayers money. Yet our taxes keep rising. Higher than Sudbury North Bay Thunder Bay yet they keep conning us and we fall for it every time. The redoing of city hall is a must or the building is going to self destruct in2018 bullshit. I do not think the citizens of the Soo have enough congons (balls) to tell them not on my watch. Come on people prove me wrong.

  3. Just because you say that even if you didn’t use that money to fix the windows or cladding at City Hall that The money in the budget was going to finance the loan would be used for other projects and other repairs to the city….maybe it shouldn’t be…maybe when we are making the taxpayers pay a large increase in taxes, perhaps there should be full disclosure of every single dollar that is spent…and we the taxpayers should get a say as to what money goes where….All I hear you saying is that you are not willing to move any of the money anywhere other than where you want it to be and that even if it wasn’t spent on Windows and cladding, you have other things you would want to spend it on….Poor planning on your parts, should Not constitute an emergency on our part. You expect us to pull more money from where? I believe that there are many extras that could be eliminated…including extra council members that could be eliminated as well as numerous other expenses, but that doesn’t happen. You just keep spending and we keep having to make up the difference…pay more money and yet lose more crucial services.

  4. It’s needs to be a big mural of the waterfront, the rapids, Searchmont valley, the Robertson bluffs, Agawa Canyon, etc.

  5. If they plan on making it look like the rendering above they need to have their heads examined, it needs some color/contrast to it. It looks like hell as is.

  6. Hahahahahaha I just love how the mayor makes up some crap story just to make himself look good. Don’t worry Mr Mayor, we all already got our tax increases to pay for your new building. You can stop lying anytime now.

  7. Linda, i don’t know what school of economics you went to but I think it was a waste… Who exactly are you gonna sell that “prime waterfront” property too??We have a bunch of that available now and can’t give it away.. And then there is the construction costs… It would cost at least 10 times as much to put up that building today as it did over 40 years ago.. just re-cladding it is gonna cost more than the original price of the place …It is what it is , and every building ever built needs upgrading from time to time.. i think this old girl is definitely in need of some new lipstick, regardless of how many times the occupants have screwed us over the years…..LOL..

  8. Bla bla bla why so long tho?
    Sell that prime water front property for big bucks to offset the cost to build a new shiny city hall somewhere else. Derp.
    Why does this press release make me feel like a child being scolded by my Mayor? lol. How Trump of him.

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