If Huntsville Council was looking for an easy answer from staff to help it solve its River Mill Park washroom conundrum, it didn’t get one.
Council continues to find itself between a rock and a hard place. A generous donation by a community member means there is a $300,000 state-of-the-art washroom facility waiting to be delivered by the manufacturer but the installation quote the municipality is currently entertaining is sitting at $330,000, which would mean installing the structure would cost more than building it.
In July, council asked municipal staff to look at other locations within River Mill Park where the washrooms could be installed at a cheaper cost. Considerations included slope, proximity to services, and a location where the park’s parking lot asphalt would not have to be ripped up and then repaired in order to access underground services.
At its September 7 special council meeting, staff returned to council with 11 possible locations they said they had looked at through consultation with Tulloch Engineering. None of the options came in at less than $200,000.
Councillor Helena Renwick said the costs were still too high and said she could not justify the expenditure. Councillor Scott Morrison agreed and although the funds would be coming out of development charges, he said there were better places to spend the funds. He said he wanted to see the preferred location/s go out to tender.
Councillor Jason FitzGerald said that is the cost of installation these days, while Councillor Dione Schumacher said the community needs an accessible washroom in that location.
Councillor Cory Clarke said he preferred the option for the least amount of money but that option meant placing the units on top of underground services. Discussions about asking the District to reroute the services or whether they’d be amenable to allowing the structure to be located on top of the services ensued. Then there was the issue of possible soil contamination in certain areas of the park and the need for test holes.
Huntsville Mayor Nancy Alcock questioned what plan B would be if council could not arrive at an acceptable cost. Clarke said plan B would be trying to recoup the funds the municipality had already spent, selling the unit, returning the funds to the donor, and apologizing profusely. That option was not something anyone on council seemed to want to entertain.
Deputy Mayor Dan Armour asked if the Town’s public works department could prepare the lands and then issue a tender. Brandon Hall, Civil Engineering Technician for the Town, said that could probably be done but it would depend on the scope of the work.
Coucillor Monty Clouthier said councillors were elected to make a decision and suggested that council choose one or two locations and issue a tender.
In the end, council asked staff to have discussions with the District of Muskoka, which looks after water and sewer services, about the location of the washroom facilities and return to council later this month.
Depending on the weather, council’s window of opportunity for installing the washrooms before winter is closing. If a decision is not made soon, it may find itself having to pay for the washroom unit to be stored over the winter.
You can find staff’s report, HERE.
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