Council takes the $32M tour

Cornwall Public Works Division Manager Bill de Wit points to one of the buildings on the Ontario Street site which has been dealing with heavy leaking. The city is looking at a $32 million multi-year plan to redesign and rebuild the yard. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – In order to understand the scope of an ambitious $32 million reconstruction of the public works yard, councillors toured the site late Thursday afternoon.

Bill de Wit, municipal works division manager, took a majority of councillors through the series of buildings on Ontario Street after taking a ride from city hall on a Cornwall Transit bus.

De Wit spoke about the first and critical situation – a number of aged underground fuel tanks. Three of them are 30 years old and hold 25,000 liters of fuel. One of them is 50 years old and has about 3,000 liters of fuel.

The tanks recently went through environmental testing and de Wit indicated, while things look “favourable,” test results would be coming within a few weeks.

The 1970s-era salt storage domes are not able to handle the amount of salt the city needs through the winter, de Wit explained. Not have the salt covered in the wind is blowing salt into machinery and other equipment on site, leading to advanced deterioration.

Other buildings on the site have problems with leaking or just can’t house the amount of equipment the city has to do its job.

The first stage, to start this year if approved, would be replacing the fuel storage tanks with an above-ground fuel depot and replacing the salt storage buildings for a cost of roughly $1.7 million.

The tanks would be removed and a new above-ground depot would be near the intersection of Lemay Street and St. Michel Avenue.

One of the two salt domes, built in 1975, is reaching the end of its life. Public Works Division Manager Bill de Wit says there's too much salt during the winter to store in the domes. The city uses 8,000 metric tons of salt a year. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)
One of the two salt domes, built in 1975, is reaching the end of its life. Public Works Division Manager Bill de Wit says there’s too much salt during the winter to store in the domes. The city uses 8,000 metric tons of salt a year. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

The biggest change motorists would see in the public works yard project, would be the permanent closing of Ontario Street in late 2017 and the construction of Lemay Street through McConnell Avenue.

The second stage from 2019-2022 would be the demolition and replacing of a number of sheds at a cost of $7.7 million.

The final phase, from 2026-2027, would be roughly $8.9 million, which includes a new public works administration building and gating.

“I think the whole thing is in the wrong spot,” Coun. Mark MacDonald said. He suggested the city could be using the land for development and choose another spot for the yard.

But Infrastructure GM John St. Marseille suggested the current location is central to the city and the site would need expensive remediation if it moved. He said the neighbourhood is also used to the public works yard being there.

Coun. Elaine MacDonald said moving the public works yard might spark a case of “NIMBYism we haven’t seen the likes of before.”

Coun. Justin Towndale agreed, saying the site is very central and poured cold water on ideas thrown out about the former Domtar site.

A separate project, the reconstruction of Lemay Street from Sydney Street to McConnell Avenue, will cost about $3.5 million dollars and would be done in phases through 2018.

City staff want to press ahead with the environmental assessments (EAs) for all the projects in order to have them “shovel ready” and eligible for shared funding from senior levels of government.

Tonight’s presentation at the special council meeting is going to be presented at a future council meeting.

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