Billings asked to consider funding application for multi-purpose facility

The Old Mill in Kagawong

KAGAWONG – It is a case of not being the right time for Billings Township to look at planning and funding (options) for a multi-purpose facility that would include the municipal office.  

At a meeting last week, Billings Township council considered a recommendation from its Go Green committee which states, in part: 

“Whereas the Old Mill is a heritage building and should be preserved for the future; and whereas the Old Mill is inefficient by having no green design or energy saving features; and whereas no solutions have been proposed to address mitigation of its carbon footprint. Therefore, be it resolved that the Go Green committee recommends that the township investigate planning and funding for an alternate building for municipal office space taking into consideration comparison of life cycle costs over the next 30 years for the Old Mill and for a new multi-purpose facility that includes the municipal office.”

Deputy Mayor Bryan Barker pointed out there is currently a federal-level Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, Green Stream, which “is a cost sharing program with the federal/provincial and municipal governments.”

“I totally agree with what the committee is saying in this (recommendation), but right now is not the time to do it,” said Councillor Sharon Alkenbrack. “I support the idea, but right now we are not ready to make this type of commitment because we are still looking at putting in place our asset management plan, and we already have commitments for other major projects as well, including work being done to make the Old Mill/municipal office space safe and comfortable for our office staff. I don’t think this is the time for this and I don’t think it can be worked out financially as well right now.”

Councillor Michael Hunt noted the township is already started into the Old Mill office space mould abatement project, and this needs to be completed first. “The first thing we need to do is make sure the office space is safe and comfortable for our staff. Then we can look at making the building more green.” 

Deputy Mayor Barker noted, “we all agree the office space is not good, and work is being carried out on it, as Michael has said. “We have researched other alternatives, such as school space and others, and are using the Park Centre (downstairs area) for the municipal office. I agree we need a long-term plan and we are working on one (asset management plan).”

Councillor Sharon Jackson agreed that until the asset management plan is completed, looking at all buildings in the township, it would be premature to look at a new multi-purpose facility. 

It was suggested that the resolution from the Go Green committee be part of the asset management planning strategy. 

There was no forwarder or seconder for the Go Green motion.

“We are not turning down the idea, but we want to see it as part of the asset management planning for buildings in the township,” said Councillor Alkenbrack. She pointed out the township already has a financial commitment for the waterfront project (and is dealing with the mould abatement problem at the Old Mill Heritage Centre municipal office and can’t look at an additional project at this time.

“I agree, we already have two capital projects on the go,” said Deputy Mayor Barker. He pointed out funding has already been applied for by the township for the Main Street hill drain project as well. “We need to have a better understanding of how much all these things will amount to for the municipality before we go ahead with further projects.” He added the asset management plan needs to be completed first, as well.