Council to look at temporary fix for Billings fire hall

KAGAWONG—Billings township council has decided it will take action to have minimal repairs done on the Billings fire hall while looking to have a review of all its buildings and their condition carried out by an engineer.

This comes after a Billings councillor voiced his concerns with the current condition of the fire hall and questioned whether the municipality was going to have action taken to correct the deficiencies at a Billings committee of the whole meeting last week.

“Are we going to actually have any work done to the fire hall, or do a study while the building falls down around the firefighters?” stated Councillor Tom Imrie. He outlined several concerns including structural problems with the exterior walls and bricks on the building, the washroom only working sporadically, the main office having some mould, problems with the electrical system in the building, as well as leaks in the roof. He pointed out that while one engineer said the building was structurally sound, a second engineer basically said major work needed to be done.

Council has been considering options for a review of all its municipal buildings and their deficiencies.

Councillor Barb Erskine pointed out, “we have had two engineers’ reports done on the building; the first said the building is structurally sound while a second said major work is needed.” She said a third report could provide the answers council is looking for and said a report on all buildings in the township needs to be carried out for the best of all who use these buildings.

“We have had two evaluations of the fire hall and we know its state-condition,” said Councillor Imrie. “We need to make some decisions and have work done on this building.”

Councillor Erskine said there are problems with buildings conditions at 91 Main Street and other buildings in the township as well.

It was posed by Councillor Brian Parker that council could look at a plan being carried out for all municipally owned buildings.

An engineer could look at the condition of each building, whether they are still functional, and what work needs to be done on them, said Councillor Erskine.

“Is there anything we can do work to the fire hall to make things better for now, until we get a proposal in place looking at all our buildings?” asked Councillor Sharon Alkenbrack.

In looking at funding sources, it was pointed out that the Canadian Federation of Municipalities can provide up to 50 percent funding for a municipal sustainability and feasibility plan to redo buildings.

And it was pointed out for most funding options, projects need to be shovel ready to be carried out with plans in place.

Councillor Parker noted at this time the township does not have anything shovel ready in terms of its buildings. We need to have a plan of what we want to see done with our buildings.”

“We need a plan to look at all our buildings including the fire hall, and a temporary fix to the fire hall,” stated Councillor Alkenbrack.

“One of the engineers said bulldoze the building and the other said it could be fixed,” said Councillor Imrie.

Council agreed it will look into having minimal repairs done to the fire hall for now, and look at an overall electrical, mechanical and structural review being carried out by an engineer on all municipal buildings.

“We are good with what council is proposing,” Billings Fire Chief Merv Gilchrist told the Recorder after the meeting. He noted that while there are deficiencies in the building, as for the issue of mould, “it’s pretty minimal. There are several little things that need to be looked at and work done, such as leaks in the roof, but we are not screaming out concerns because none of us spend a lot of hours in the building. But there is work that needs to be done and hopefully council can find some type of solution for the building. We are looking forward to whatever plan they come up with.”