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Grey Highlands spending $140K on facility inspections

'The condition of our facilities is an area where we have historically lacked data,' states staff report recommending third-party, comprehensive inspection of municipality’s 49 facilities and 16 outdoor recreation pavilions and ball diamonds
Grey Highlands town hall
The Grey Highlands municipal office.

Grey Highlands council has approved a plan to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the condition of all of its facilities.

At its meeting on March 1, council approved a staff report recommending a full building assessment condition report for the municipality’s 49 facilities and 16 outdoor recreation pavilions and ball diamonds. The report recommended the municipality engage Nadine Consulting Engineers for the project, which will cost $141,640 excluding HST.

Grey Highlands will fund the project through a $50,000 grant it received from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and reserves.

Council voted 6-1 in favour of the plan, with Coun. Dan Wickens casting the lone dissenting vote.

“The condition of our facilities is an area where we have historically lacked data. We have never undergone a formal building condition assessment, which was identified as an area of concern in our asset management plan, and in our annual and long-term budgeting,” Director of Financial Services/Treasurer Anna McCarthy explained in the report.

The Grey Highlands assessment management plan states: “The municipality should implement regular condition assessments for all critical facilities to better inform short and longer-term capital requirements. Third-party building condition inspections should be performed on the critical and high priority buildings every 5-10 years, whereas smaller and non-public facing structures can be assessed internally by staff as needed.”

The plan was generally well received by members of council, although there were some questions.

Coun. Paul Allen was concerned about the inspections possibly resulting in the closure of municipal facilities.

“How much flexibility do we have in shutting things down? Again, I know that if there is something totally unsafe, we have to do something about it,” said Allen. “I would hate to suddenly find out we have 10 facilities that are boom, shut down.”

In response, McCarthy said the engineers would immediately bring any major issues to staff’s attention, who in turn would report back to council ASAP.

“I certainly hope we don’t receive information like that,” said McCarthy. “Of course, we can’t predict it if we will. But if we do, that’s certainly something we’ll make council aware of right away.”

Wickens questioned the cost of the project and suggested it could be done in-house by staff.

“It just seems like an awful lot of money to spend. It just seems like a pile of money to me,” he said.

Deputy Mayor Dane Nielsen said he felt bringing in outside consultants for the project would offer the municipality an “unbiased” view of the overall situation.

“It is data we need to have for a [comprehensive] discussion with the community about the level of service and what that level of service will cost us,” said Nielsen.

Coun. Tom Allwood said the report will provide pertinent information about key municipal assets.

“I heard during the election that these facilities are important to our communities,” said Allwod. “There are a lot of municipal facilities involved here.”

Coun. Nadia Dubyk said the project is key for the municipality.

“It’s important we do a very thorough and professional baseline,” she said. “We want to ensure that we are managing these important hubs for our community members with good governance.”

The report is expected to be completed by September 2023.

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About the Author: Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Chris Fell covers The Blue Mountains and Grey Highlands under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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