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City facing big costs for building repairs (5 photos)

Tuesday, April 08, 2014   by: Darren Taylor

City council received an update on the condition of Sault Ste. Marie’s city-owned buildings Monday.

The Asset Management Study was delivered to council by Amy Heppler, a professional engineer with Toronto-based consultants Morrison Hershfield.  

26 city-owned properties were inspected and, overall, most of them are in good condition.

Recreational buildings like the Essar Centre, John Rhodes Centre and the Northern Community Centre are in excellent to very good condition.

Others are described as being in very good or fair condition.

Some of the infrastructure is starting to age and the city will have to spend money on repairs to buildings such as the museum and the public library’s main branch.

The Civic Centre itself was identified as a building that needs improvement.

Among its identified needs are a new guard rail and repairs to its roof and outside walls.

Its estimated $5.75 million will have to be spent on Civic Centre repairs over the next 10 years.

Based on her report, Heppler recommended the city spend $5 million in improvements to its properties in 2014, $2 million in 2015 and over $1 million in 2016.

Long term, Heppler said the city is looking at over $10 million in repairs to its facilities over the next five years, and over $20 million over the next 10 years.

Bill Freiburger, commissioner of finance and treasurer, said the city is developing a financing plan to address the situation.

Freiburger said debt financing may be necessary to carry out the needed repairs.

The report was “not surprising, but a good reminder,” said Ward 2 Councillor Terry Sheehan.

Mayor Debbie Amaroso said the city will apply for funding from the province in order to help with repairs, but noted funding opportunities at present are “minimal.” 


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Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
diggie 4/9/2014 6:36:06 AM Report

City Hall could slip into the St. Mary's River and I wouldn't lose any sleep!
dadal 4/9/2014 6:56:07 AM Report

City needs to watch Home Depot sales. I'm sure the railing will be on sale to cost less than 5 mil to replace...
crashed13 4/9/2014 7:11:28 AM Report

Is a commercial building that was open in 1975 not suppose to be falling apart already?
David Poluck 4/9/2014 7:13:16 AM Report

Aging infrastructure, property maintenance and budget management within an already stressed tax base.

It been widely reported that council was surprised at the costs of repair?

Ward 2 Councilor. Susan Myers noted that while the report sounded bleak, there is no cause for alarm.

“We’re moving forward with the planning and taking it one step at a time,” she said.

Ward mate Terry Sheehan noted that the results, given the age of many of the city’s buildings, is not really surprising, “but it looks bad when it’s all out in front of you.”

Mayor Debbie Amaroso noted that there are minimal opportunities to access provincial funds for the city’s infrastructure.

The timing of the report to council is disquieting to say the least seeing that the preliminary budget was released to the public and council and budget deliberations are set for the 14th do not include as far as I'm aware the findings presented Monday.

Why was this type of report not done last year or before?

Is the current preliminary budget that has been released as information to the public to be re written?

I would think that there are major adjustments that will need to be made now.

Bill Freiburger has said that financing the report is the next step in the city’s asset management planning.He said while the city prefers a pay-as-you-go system, there may be a need for debt financing.

Council has already been informed that the $1 million of casino revenues that had gone to the new Sault Area Hospital will now be diverted to the asset management funds now that the hospital payment is almost complete.

It’s also anticipated that in future years, more funds, whether through the levy or some other means, will need to top up that fund.

What do you think?

Slim Shady 4/9/2014 7:26:31 AM Report

@dadal, @crashed13

I think that they are probably refering to replacing the entire built-up roof membrane on the roof. If the building was built in the early 1970s it would be due for another replacement. Most industrial BURS roofs are designed to last 20-30 years.

All the negative comments puzzle me, especially if you own your own house. Building need ongoing naintenance. What would you rather see? Let the roof leak until it destroys the inside of the building and its contents? Mold?!

It is due diligence of the City to assess the status of our buildings on a regular basis and conduct preventative maintenance.
burnell 4/9/2014 7:30:49 AM Report

if the city stop giving raises to each other there would be no need to ask the public for help
TFinn 4/9/2014 7:31:39 AM Report

Don't need a large public library any longer ..everything is on-line... perhaps a smaller space would do ??
Slim Shady 4/9/2014 7:55:34 AM Report


"...Don't need a large public library any longer ..everything is on-line... perhaps a smaller space would do ??"

Tell me you don't mean that?! As wonderful as the internet is, it still is quite the source of disinformation (erroneous info)... Also if anything happened to the Internet (war etc.) a lot of data could be lost forever. I do think there is a place for hard copy archives?
IgnorantNortherner 4/9/2014 7:59:54 AM Report

good call, tfinn.

i think books have pretty much served their purpose and the only thing left to do is take advantage of their BTUs and we can free up a bunch of space as well
David Poluck 4/9/2014 8:03:50 AM Report

Slim, It is due diligence of the City to assess the status of our buildings on a regular basis and conduct preventative maintenance.

When was the last report made to council?

What were the actions taken?

Are these preventative maintenance costs not all ready projected in departmental budgets?

Just wondering.

IgnorantNortherner 4/9/2014 8:07:02 AM Report

yeah, disinfo is strictly found online and is not rampant in todays "news"papers, tv or our children's indoctrination manuals eh slimshady?

good thing anderson cooper is around to let us know what's REALLY going on...
Sam C 4/9/2014 8:15:33 AM Report

TFinn... perhaps you should go to the Library yourself, and see how it is used. I am there at least once a week, and it is a busy place.

There are people using computers to access the internet -- people who do not have their own computers, or perhaps do not have internet where they live.

There are people in the "Study Room" on their own laptops, or reading/doing work.

Libraries will not be going away anytime soon.

As for the repairs -- it happens. I agree with others, the negative comments are un-called for... the City has taken action to identify buildings in need of repair, and is setting a plan to address the repairs. Other than waving a magic wand, I'm not sure how they could do more.
BigDaddy 4/9/2014 8:30:15 AM Report

The City is developing a "business plan"....screw the taxpayer...done, now let's go for coffee.
Bohod 4/9/2014 8:43:23 AM Report

Get out your check book folks. Taxes will rise.
guard1 4/9/2014 8:45:01 AM Report

No one wants to face the expense of building repairs but these repairs are necessary and are value added. But there are other descions that council makes year after year that have no value. The numerous flag poles and the ongoing funding of the Norgoma are 2 of them. Even though they are small in comparison to the expense of the buildings the fact that they spent money on them shows the disregard that they towards the taxpayers. Doesnt look like there will be any tax relief this year either. Sure hope the voters remember the many years of tax increases when they vote this fall.
B_I 4/9/2014 9:05:14 AM Report

Nothing said about the old PUC building. Wonder what's going on with that.
ThinkAgain 4/9/2014 9:23:24 AM Report

Not surprised - old infrastructure, just add it to the list (they have the money to already fix things - its just going into there pockets) See where priorities lye.
David Poluck 4/9/2014 9:31:54 AM Report

Sam. At this point a magic wand may be required.
court222 4/9/2014 9:37:55 AM Report

Maybe they should take a wages cut like everyone else?
pruden 4/9/2014 9:53:55 AM Report

My grandchildren love going to the library. They are 2 years and 4 years old and already have their library card.

Brietsy 4/9/2014 11:26:02 AM Report

perhaps there may be less books at a library down the road, but the good folks at the library are really good at adapting. Because laptops and other portable computers are everywhere nowadays, libraries are going to start catering to that even more. They have many books that are being published on a digital loan program. e-books that act exactly like borrowing a book from the library. Imagine being able to walk into a study room, log in to the library network, and opening up a full encyclopedia (that's verified, unlike wikipeida) and move through it, doing your research as you go. that's the future. It'll be a place for information and collaboration. Our libraries have an important place in the future. And honestly, it's the same place as it's always been. Just updated a bit.
S.M.A.R.T. 4/9/2014 11:56:09 AM Report

I must say that I'm very disappointed with the comments regarding this story. B_I mentioned the old PUC building, but I'm not sure to what end. Surely it wasn't to suggest that it should become the new City Hall? But indeed, shouldn't a new City Hall be the answer? After 40 or so years I cannot believe that the city bureaucracy has not grown sufficiently to warrant a nice, brand new building. Here's the plan. Temporarily move City Police to a new site. Perhaps a combination of the old PUC building and General Hospital would do. They could lease (or buy?) the hospital for $60 000. Tear down that decrepit old police building; build a new City Hall at Gt. Northern and 2nd Line. I'm sure the Petro Can station wouldn't mind expropriation and the back lot is free open space. And presto, a nice, big, new City Hall site. And then? I'm sure the now old City Hall could be fixed up nicely to accommodate the police. Cost? Who cares because we NEED this.
S.M.A.R.T. 4/9/2014 12:07:18 PM Report

Sorry. Just realized the plan won't work. The hardware store is in the way, so Petro Can will breathe a sigh of relief. LOL
IgnorantNortherner 4/9/2014 12:21:20 PM Report

S.M.R.T., hopefully you are secretly lou lukenda or some other local hundred millionaire that can afford to throw a few tens of millions at these new city parasite buildings we "need"

actually, i hope you were just being sarcastic :)
Slim Shady 4/9/2014 12:22:40 PM Report


"...Nothing said about the old PUC building. Wonder what's going on with that..."

I believe that one of them was sold to RoofMart. The other I do not know.
S.M.A.R.T. 4/9/2014 2:41:04 PM Report

IgnorantNortherner. I didn't make up your on line name so no offense intended. As for whom I am. Unfortunately not the FORMER (I wish), but indeed the LATTER. It just seems to me that: “A roof leaks? Let's build a nice new building!” is now the norm. I remember there was a time when buildings such as schools, etc. needed upgrades, repairs or additions were undertaken. Local debenture bonds were issued after serious soul searching. Now? Let's just let the government get further into debt and get everything we need (want?) NOW! Once again me thinks the latter. WANT WANT WANT!!!
IgnorantNortherner 4/9/2014 3:36:25 PM Report

None taken -- I am way too ignore-ant to ever get offended....

...and glad to hear it!

It was the police building comment that threw me off. I figured if you were trolling or just being sarcastic you would have deemed it necessary for the police to get a brand new building too, so I figured maybe you were a city employee that actually saw a need for that waste.
Note: Comments that appear on the site are not the opinion of If you see an abusive post, please click the link beside the post to report it.
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