For a difference of $170,000, which is less than half the price City Council spent on 89 Hudson Street, we could have a brand new bus terminal downtown.
That is the determination of a 172 page report being sent to council Monday night showing three options including the not-publicly supported move to 111 Huron Street.
Simply put the numbers look like this:
- Renovate 111 Huron Street- $2.16 million (over 4200 square feet)
- New Terminal at Dennis Street – $2.33 million (3300 square feet)
- Renovate Existing Terminal – $972,000 (would cost 100 square feet in the already tiny space)
If you notice, in the estimate for Huron Street they project $225/square foot. In the estimate for the new build on Dennis street, the square foot number isn’t shown. They estimated the new build, with our rough math, at $325/square foot. Is there really a $100 difference in renovating to new costs per square foot?
You will also notice a new building downtown is actually cheaper to build, the number that puts it over the Huron street option is $205,000 to remove the existing structure.
It’s no secret the city’s stance, including at the bottom of this report is to move the terminal. They say in a report to council it will save up to $2 million over the next 10 years.
The biggest savings would be “To save $105,000 annually in expenditures for capital building requirements and ongoing maintenance,” according to the report.
The report fails to mention what the city currently spends on maintenance at the Huron Street location. However it does show multiple issues with the existing structures at that location.
A line in the fine print, which is not in the new build estimate, but is in the 111 Huron Street estimate states:
“COST ESTIMATE DOES NOT INCLUDE ANY COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH POTENTIAL STUCTURAL UPGRADES IF REQUIRED.”
Is the city planning to use some money from the ICIP grant for a new bus terminal to also fix the Bus Barn facility. One person with inside knowledge of the Bus Barns told SaultOnline the situation in those buildings is “rapidly deteriorating.”
Has this been the plan all along, move the terminal, use provincial funding to build a new terminal, but also fix existing problems with the building at 111 Huron Street?
The other major savings the city points out for moving the bus terminal is the projected fuel/time cost savings of $67,000 a year. They have previously stated this is what would be saved by drivers not having to take busses from the Depot to downtown and back.
Anyone that rides transit, or has tried to park at the GFL centre during the week, realizes not all bus drivers park at the depot. Drivers park downtown, get on the bus, do their routes and then return to their vehicles to go home. The buses and drivers don’t go back to the terminal after every run, or at every shift change. Was this taken into account by the city?
Those are the major arguments the city makes for moving the terminal.
A third argument which states that the charging stations for electric buses would all be in the same place. However, with the length of time it takes to charge a bus, it doesn’t make much sense to put a charging station downtown when electric buses in other municipalities are charged overnight, not while waiting to pick up passengers at a terminal.
Another argument made for moving the terminal is the safety of riders and drivers.
How can the city be worried about safety of drivers and riders at Queen and Dennis, but say it is safe to bring families downtown to a $8.4 million dollar plaza at Queen and Spring?
The report doesn’t include any police statistics backing the claim that Huron Street is safer. SaultOnline has looked back at archived stories and it can be argued that both the areas are about the same in this respect.
The city must also have concerns about safety at the proposed new location, as also on Monday’s agenda is a 3-year contract to be awarded to North East Regional Security Systems for $55,000/year. This time frame would cover the move to Huron Street also.
All of these arguments may be for naught. In the 2021 budget passed by council, the capital spending plan for the Bus Barn location on Huron Street shows a $2.1 million dollar investment in 2023 for that property.
Coincidentally the cost of the terminal relocation to the Transit Bus Depot is estimated at $2.16 million. So, has the city been planning this move all along and this is just the due process we are seeing… just smoke and mirrors?
As a side note, the budget line used to buy Hudson Street also saw a significant jump in the budget the year prior to it being approved by council.
We pride ourselves in being a publication which is the voice of the people. It has been made clear to us on our social media, in our comment sections and to our reporters that this isn’t what the people of this city want.
If the $2 million in savings is what some councillors are fixated on as a reason to make this change, which the Greyhounds, numerous local businesses and general population have shown opposition to, here is something else that would cost that much over 10 years.
The proposed downtown plaza, which is waiting for final approval, has an estimated operating budget of $265,000 a year, or $2.65 million over the next 10 years.
Those familiar with council expect the discussion around this topic to be lengthy during Monday nights council meeting. The meeting can be seen at 4:30 p.m. on SaultOnline/ONNTV or our Facebook Page.