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Terminals foundation sound enough for vacant building: engineers report

A closer look at the wood pile foundation under the former Collingwood grain elevators showed some damage, but engineers deemed it safe provided the building remained empty
Erika Engel/CollingwoodToday

The wood pile foundation holding up the Collingwood Terminals building is sound enough for the vacant structure, according to an engineer’s report.

The report was delivered to the town last month, and included the assessment of Tacoma Engineers contracted by the town to look closer at the foundation of the massive concrete structure on Collingwood’s waterfront.

Site investigations included human divers and remote underwater vehicles swimming around the base of the building in December 2019. Engineers also excavated test pits on land around the building to review the wood piles underneath.

The report states 50 per cent of the piles viewed during underwater explorations had deterioration ranging from surface decay to complete pile decay. These observations were made under the wharf portion of the Terminals building.

The foundation walls, concrete slabs, and wood piles uncovered in the test digs on land were both in “good condition,” according to the report.

“The existing foundation system is in fair condition given the age of the structure,” states the Tacoma report. “The deterioration appears limited to a localized area below the wharf that is exposed to more severe conditions.”

The report noted there is no significant risk to person or property since the current load of the empty Terminals building is “significantly less than the design loads.”

Tacoma suggested a repair strategy would be “prudent” to mitigate further decay to the exposed piles.

“This assessment is based on the assumption that the facility continues in its current use with limited access by authorized personnel or contractors only,” noted the Tacoma report.

Should the facility be redeveloped, the engineers stated a detailed structural analysis would be required.

Tacoma also recommended the Terminals be monitored on a regular basis for evidence of new and further damage.

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.

The 2018 report, also by Tacoma Engineers, estimated it would cost about $10 million to clean up and repair the Collingwood Terminals building so it can be a decommissioned industrial site. Meaning, it would remain a vacant building. The report noted the cost would go up the more time passes without repairs.

The building is structurally sound, according to the report, but some poor conditions required quick attention. Recommended repairs include replacing the roof, installing a fall arrest system, complete concrete restoration and reinforcement, and replacing all the windows and doors in the building.

There’s environmental cleanup to be done on the site regardless if the building is demolished, decommissioned, or developed. That would include cleaning up guano (bird poop) that has piled up in the marine tower.

Tacoma estimates $8 million to $9.7 million in costs if the town were to complete full remediation and repair of the building over the next five years. That’s including $2 million for environmental cleanup, $3.5 million for the roof repair, $3 million for concrete restoration, $500,000 for windows and doors, $300,000 for interior systems, and $400,000 for waterproofing and drainage.

The next step for the future of the Collingwood Terminals is up to council.

For more on the engineer reports, white paper, and public engagement process regarding the future of the Collingwood Terminals, visit the town website here.

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Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 13 years of experience as a local journalist
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