Billings municipal office to be closed for extensive time

The Old Mill in Kagawong

Township employees to work out of Park Centre in Kagawong

KAGAWONG – The municipal office in Billings Township is going to be closed for an extensive period of time while work is carried out to resolve the problems with air quality in the building.

“My position on this is we have to make it safe for the staff, and more efficient to heat as well,” stated Billings Mayor Ian Anderson at a council meeting last week. “The stone walls there now don’t provide adequate insulation and this is not acceptable. We need to find another building to be used as the municipal office. Logically, we need to fix the problems in the current building,” he said, noting the municipal office may need to be closed for up to nine months for the required work to be completed. 

“Hopefully it won’t take that long,” said township clerk Kathy McDonald. She told the Recorder the last rental for the Old Mill municipal office is October 21 for the federal election voting to take place. 

At a previous meeting council had accepted a tender for the removal of contaminated material plan. At a meeting August 6, council had passed a resolution to hire Tulloch Engineering for mould abatement assessment and structural design of the replacement of the floor system for 150 Old Mill Road at a combined cost of $18,300.

“We are currently waiting on the engineering drawings for the municipal office. Once we receive the drawings, we can have the request for proposals prepared and released,” said Ms. McDonald. She explained that currently, the intent is to remove the existing floor from the back part of the office and replace it with an engineered concrete floor. The flooring and subfloor in the main office will also be removed down to the bare concrete. The concrete floor will then be sealed. It is anticipated this should fix the source of the problems in the buildings. 

It was also suggested that the outside walls be insulated and drywall installed. This would make the office more comfortable for staff and also be more energy efficient.

Several temporary locations for housing the municipal office staff while the work is carried out were presented, including relocating to the Park Centre, 91 Main Street in Kagawong, using a portable, or Manitoulin Secondary School. The Park Centre was the preferred option of the municipal staff as it is accessible to members of the public, there is existing space available and it would be more cost efficient, the only drawback being for events already scheduled in the building having to be relocated. Ms. McDonald explained, “we are still waiting for the design drawings from the engineer to go to tender for this work to be carried out.”

“I agree with Ian, if staff can use the space here and it is the best option this building (Park Centre) should be used,” said Councillor Sharon Alkenbrack, who said the safety and health of the municipal office staff has to be the first priority.

“I agree,” said Councillor Sharon Jackson. “Obviously the office staff needs and deserves to work in a safe, healthy environment. And if the office staff can be comfortable working in the Park Centre that’s where they should be. It is not ideal but if they can make it work then this is where the office should be.”
 “The (Park Centre) is the most logical spot for the staff and the office,” stated Councillor Michael Hunt. “It is wheelchair accessible and people know where it is.” 

“I have stated all along the health of the staff is the priority,” said Councillor Bryan Barker. 

Mayor Anderson noted it is unanimous among all members of council that the municipal office be moved to the Park Centre. “And if staff has recommendations that we can look at to improve the surroundings to work in, we will definitely entertain suggestions. I can think of one being that we need to look at how a more private office atmosphere can be created, maybe with partitions being put up.”

“And, as for the Old Mill we have to do what it takes to make the building a lot better than it is now,” said Mayor Anderson.

Council passed a motion to have the municipal office and staff be relocated to the Park Centre. This will take place after the federal election takes place. Ms. McDonald told the Recorder it is hoped that the municipal staff will be able to move back into the Old Mill in May 2020.