At the first meeting of the Elliot Lake 2020 Ad Hoc Budget Committee Monday afternoon, city CAO Daniel Gagnon told members of City Council that the stage is set for demolition of the derelict Lester B. Pearson Civic Centre.
"The insurer has provided us with a fairly significant payment of $3.5 M on the civic centre insurance file," Gagnon noted. "I wanted councillors to know it was at least in our bank collecting interest while we still continue to work with the insurer on what this all means for the future of the building."
"We're also still working with the insurer and Tulloch Engineering, and we should be awarding the (demolition) tender in January with demolition by March. I believe March 6 is the date for substantial completion of the demolition," he said.
According to a report Blair Boilard, senior loss adjuster at Crawford insurance adjusters of Elliot Lake, there is more settlement money coming the city's way – about another $500,000.
As for a replacement for the facilities and workspace that Elliot Lake lost when a section of the Civic Centre roof collapsed last Feb. 21, Gagnon said not much has been decided.
"Nothing much has happened on the future of arts building. I do plan to either delegate or do it myself to get an email out to the federal funder of Cultural Spaces Canada. We talked about this at the Hub Committee meeting," said Gagnon.
"That's the agency we were looking to for 50-cent dollars for the new build so we could take our $4 million to leverage another $4 million minimum, and move on."
"Hopefully between now and December 9, I'll have a little more to say on that. We haven't begun the concept of commissioning our engineers or architects as we were busy with the hub. So I think we can begin to get those machinations going in the next little while," said Gagnon.
The committee voted to advance the report from Crawford on the insurance settlement following the demise of the Civic Centre to city council, for further information.
The Budget Committee also decided to accept a staff recommendation for a 7 per cent annual residential water and wastewater charge increase for 2020.
In their report on the subject of fee hikes, Gagnon and Director of Public Works Daryl Halloch recommended the annual fee increase as the way to pay for ongoing Elliot Lake infrastructure upgrades. The report recommendation would increase the residential flat rate price of water/wastewater by another $49 in 2020.
Councillor Chris Patrie called the 7 per cent residential increase "over-zealous." He said the transfer to reserves since 2017 has seen a 16 per cent increase. He stated in 2017 the figure was $900,000 and the 2019 transfer is $1.65 M.
"You have to understand we've had a 35 per cent increase in water bills in the last five years," said Patrie. "I think it's a little too drastic."
Mayor Dan Marchisella wanted to know how the unfinished portion of infrastructure work on Valley/Hemlock might play into the start of the work on Pine/Poplar. He was told by Halloch the work that was put off til 2020 includes underground infrastructure from Cedar to Central, which will take about three months. The Valley/Hemlock delay was caused by crews having to deal with unexpected bedrock.
Councillor Sandy Finamore asked Halloch if that means the city will be running both jobs at the same time. He agreed that is something which is expected to happen.
The water fee hike was approved at committee on a 5-1 vote with Patrie the lone dissenter.