Saturday, December 08, 2012

Moneypit Needs Another $1,000,000.00 Renovation

"Blackhole" On Victoria Rd.
Will Never Be Filled!
Also Known As The Moneypit!

If you know someone, or if you yourself have ever bought a 'fixer-upper' and thought a little paint here and a little tweak there and this old house will be as good as new, only to have it turn into the house from hell, you will know exactly what I am talking about.

In 2008 the city wanting to satisfy the arts and culture lobby in town spent over half a million tax dollars on a building that had sold for less than $300,000 a few years earlier. If you read the contractors and engineers report the group wanting the building put together you would have to ask whether they actually seriously considered the building they said seemed like a good deal.

I find it curious that there does not seem to be any supporting recommendations from the city staff about this building, it seems that the council of the day based their buying decision solely on the report presented by the group wanting the building. The decision to buy this building was just another in a series of blunders committed by the council of the day. As I recall Councillor Brennan was one of the cheerleaders for this project when it was decided at one of those famous in camera meetings with no chance of public input or scrutiny.

I have no intention of addressing the pros and cons or merits of the value of this building for the local arts and culture community, as I have no qualifications to speak to that matter. I do seem to recall, it's use came no where near expectations during its first few years and the anticipated operating surplus simply never did materialize.

On the matter of whether this building represents good value for tax dollars spent purely on it's merits as a building, I do have enough experience with construction to know a REALLY bad deal when I see one.

First, this building has had two different engineers warn that the building would NOT stand up to current siesmic loading. Meaning? In a seismic event, such as one which was the reason for building a new annex, this building would most likely result in anyone inside not surviving a seismic event. There is no allowance for seismic upgrading in the current guesstimate to fix up this building to the tune of $800,000.00. This upgrade could cost a small fortune, all by itself.

Second, there has been no hazardous material removal assessment done on the building, and anyone who has ever had to remove asbestos insulation on piping and heating components, knows just what kind of a financial nightmare this can turn into. Does specially trained teams clothed in spacesuits ring any bells?

The engineers report shows of sufficiently loose stucco as to present a life safety issue, which means when you start to open up this building you are going to find place, after place after place where water has been able to penetrate the outer envelope and get into the building cavity. As you know, that is the kind of environment which breeds that deadly black mould which  is a nightmare to treat. Not to mention all the rotted wood that will need replacing.

The roof is shot, the chimney could fall down any minute, downspouts and drains are not properly installed or maintained, and on and on the list goes. Stucco is cracking, window sills are rotting, window and door jambs are shrinking, roof grates are not installed over drain pipes, paint has peeled allowing water to get at the wood...... etc. etc. etc.

Council have voted to consider this renovation during the upcoming rounds of budgeting, if they seriously consider this building is worth throwing even another $100,000 into, there needs to be a good old fashioned taxpayer uprising and maybe some rotten fruit throwing at a council meeting.

If we can find a million dollars to throw into this money pit, I am sure the arts and culture folk in town could find a whole lot better use for it!


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