Collingwood’s grain elevator building continued to make the news in 2019 with questions about the future fate of the waterfront landmark.
A new citizen’s group formed and circulated a petition to save the terminals, also holding meetings to discuss the value of the building and explore other cases where decommissioned grain elevator buildings have been repurposed.
An engineer’s report released in 2018 stated work on the terminals, whether to demolish or restore them, should begin soon before further deterioration made it a more costly endeavour.
However, little physical work has occurred on the terminal building.
This year, the town spent about $135,000 on emergency repairs necessary for staff safety, and approved $20,000 for an engagement campaign to weigh public opinion on the building’s future.
The town also spent $10,000 to have a drone or diver inspect the 4,000 underwater wood piles that make up the foundation of the concrete structure.
According to Sonya Skinner, executive director of customer and corporate services for Collingwood, the initial underwater inspection of the west side of the terminals is complete, but results have not been released.
“The engineering consultant will be analyzing the information obtained and will develop options for further investigation in the new year,” said Skinner in an email to CollingwoodToday.
The 2018 engineer’s report completed by Tacoma Engineers’ Will Teron, estimated the Terminals site requires about $2 million in environmental clean up to deal with asbestos, environmentally hazardous contaminants, and bird guano. He said the guano is about two feet thick in some spots in the marine tower, which has been exposed to the elements since the windows have broken.
Teron’s report stated this environmental clean-up would have to occur whether the building is restored, repurposed, or demolished.
Council has already passed the 2020 budget, and it does not contain any money for environmental clean-up at the Terminals site.
“Currently, funds have not been identified or allocated for this process to begin,” said Skinner.
The town is, however, carrying an $8 million unfunded financial liability on its books, to represent the cost to demolish the Collingwood Terminals building.
Though Teron’s report estimated the demolition at $5 million, his numbers didn’t include removing the 4,000 pile foundation. According to the town website, the “realistic cost” to demolish the building is closer to $8 million than to $5 million.
The 2018 engineer’s report estimates the cost to replace the roof, clean up the site, and preserve the facade at about $10 million, and that’s not including any renovation of the interior space for use.
There’s also the matter of the road and services in the area, according to town staff.
A white paper on the terminals estimates it will cost about $3 million to bring utilities to the site and raise the access road for four-season use.
Town staff have stated the current service is a one-inch water line that goes to the marina and 100-amp electrical service on-site. There is no sewer service.
A public survey put out in 2019 asked Collingwood residents to choose one of three options for the site, which included finding private partners, moving forward with environmental clean-up and studying the future options through a steering committee, or seeking business opportunities for various spaces in the Terminals building.
Skinner said once public consultation has ended, council will decide on the next steps, possibly in the first half of 2020.
However, there may be a delay if further investigation is warranted based on the outcome of the pile inspection.