Lambton Shores proposes spending over $500,000
LAMBTON SHORES – After discussion during at least one closed session, council has voted 8-1 to spend $440,000 to buy a property in Forest to establish an operations depot from which a community services department works crew is to service the southern portion of the municipality.
That district is now served by facilities that have long been acknowledged as antiquated and inadequate.
The motion approved in January stated the location of the chosen site but few other details with a promise that staff would prepare a future report on final closing costs and options on how to pay for the purchase. Lone opponent of the purchase motion was Ward Five Coun. Rick Goodhand, one of two Forest area representatives on council.
“I am not against the purchase of a new works depot for Forest,” Goodhand told the Times-Advance when asked to explain his vote. “I would like to look at the big picture. How does it affect the other areas, what are the costs to the other areas?” he asked. “Also how does this affect the staff and will response times for the ratepayers remain the same or improve?”
In a report prepared for council’s approval on Tuesday of this week, community services director Steve McAuley adds some meat to the bare bones. He reveals that the purchase includes an existing 2,600 square foot ‘construction shop’ building on 2.2 acres of land on Rawlings Road of which 1.2 acres could be used for future industrial purposes.
The director recommends spending of about $50,000 for improvements such as a new, wider overhead door, addition of a sink in the lunch room, an office for the lead hand and fencing modifications. Including the $50,000, McAuley cites a total cost of $504,907: $440,000 for property purchase, land transfer tax of $5,075, net HST $7,832 and legal costs of $2,000.
He suggests that the balance of this total be drawn from the acquisition of capital assets – real property reserve if council agrees to allocate a sufficient portion of the 2017 operating budget’s surplus to that reserve. Treasurer Janet Ferguson says the surplus is estimated at $795,000, subject to disclosure of any further 2017 transactions and completion of an audit next month.
A $50,000 deposit toward the $440,000 property purchase price total is already drawn from the real property reserve, as directed by council’s January motion.
Without naming the property vendor, the community services director says in his report, “The owner has since focused his business efforts in other areas and as a result the building was no longer required.”
7849 Rawlings Road has been the site of a building serving as headquarters and shop for Concept Construction Limited, founded by Jeremy Doornbosch in 2007. Seeking his intentions, the T-A contacted Doornbosch who said he was annoyed by the questions. “I’m not willing to disclose anything. It’s none of your business. Talk to Lambton Shores.”
In June 2017 council received an organization and workplace review in which consultants Bill Winegard and John Armstrong stated, “There is a need in Forest and Grand Bend for seasonal depots, from which a small crew could work from time to time if assigned there by the manager of roads. For example, if a storm sewer vacuum operation were taking place in either urban area, the manager is likely to assign the vacuum truck crew to report directly to the Forest or Grand Bend depot for the duration of the work.”
The consultants continued, “Similarly if a winter storm were expected, the manager is likely to assign a couple of operators and equipment to begin plowing operations from these depots when called out. The seasonal depots would each also serve as headquarters for the summer parks staff, with a designated crew of permanent operators and summer staff assigned to each by the manager of parks/facilities.”
The suggested building requirements? “Each depot should ideally include two bays for large equipment, one small bay for light equipment (mowers, sidewalk plows) male and female washrooms each with a shower, a small lunchroom, and a small office. A new site and a new building is required most urgently in Forest but also in Grand Bend.”
The Winegard/Armstrong report did not suggest the magnitude of costs or source of funding.