Airport Road picked for new South Glengarry public works garage

In this August 2018, file photo, the salt storage facility on Airport Road in South Glengarry. Council has approved a location on Airport Road for a new public works facility to replace the Williamstown location. The Williamstown garage will be converted into a fire hall. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

LANCASTER – The location has been picked for a new $1.3 million public works garage for South Glengarry.

Council voted 3-2 Monday night to go ahead with tendering for the facility on Airport Road after a third party review by the United Counties of SD&G. It would be near the salt storage facility, west of the airport.

Infrastructure General Manager Ewen MacDonald says the design is “in the works” and the township would go to tender this year, depending on the construction climate with COVID-19. MacDonald added that the municipality might get favourable pricing considering the current economic climate.

In supporting it, Deputy Mayor Lyle Warden said he would like to see the entire public works operations in one area. “At the end of the day, I would like to see us end up at one shop for all of our plows and all of our maintenance equipment. I feel with today’s technology, I think that’s possible.”

Right now, the other garage is in North Lancaster. MacDonald answered that the North Lancaster site “has a considerable amount of value” and it would be difficult to get rid of the building.

MacDonald said the Airport Road site could hold all the summer equipment and the winter equipment, although it would be “a tight fit.” A number of councillors suggested that when the garage is built, it should be done with a long term vision, instead of having to add additions down the road, which tend to be a source of structural problems and leaks.

“I’m not convinced that one site is the answer based on our rural nature,” MacDonald said, noting that there are few instances right now where plows are travelling without having their plows down clearing the roadway.

“It’s time to put this issue to bed,” Coun. Martin Lang said. “If we get things up and running in the next month or so, I would like to see us doing our part. We have this money set aside already. If we can put this money out there, get some construction started in the area…I would love to see this thing get going.”

Lang wanted to see the design as soon as possible and council was assured it would see the design before the official tender goes out.

Looking at best use of taxpayer dollars, Coun. Stephanie Jaworski would like to see a plow route optimization study to see whether two locations versus one location would be cheapest to operate.

County Engineer Ben de Haan, who joined the virtual council meeting, said the Airport Road was the best location due to the “significant investment” in the salt storage facility already there. The location is also “not disruptive to neighbours.” The salt storage building, which was originally supposed to cost about $250,000, went a half-million dollars over budget, and ended up costing the township $720,000 to build in 2017.

CAO Tim Mills says more information on the snowplow route optimization study and funding for it will come to council in two weeks.

“I would like to see it a little more central,” Coun. Sam McDonell said but conceded he would be outvoted on the preferred location.

The Williamstown garage will be renovated to serve as a fire hall.

The township has set aside $1.32 million for the garage although its likely the project will go over that budget.