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Council approves demo of Albert Street building as NTRC options are explored for Admin centre

September 13, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Kira Wronska Dorward

Discussion at the September 9 Council meeting returned to the subject of the new Administration Centre for a final decision.

Debate over the Administration Centre has been dividing Council for months, but yesterday a motion was passed, after a 5-4 vote (with an absent Mayor Milne) to proceed with demolition of 25 Albert Street and to pursue construction options at the NTRC (New Tecumseth Recreation Complex) property.

Last week, Council drafted a motion to demolish the 25 Albert Street property, putting the cost of the demolition into the sale price of the property, as well as a resolution to no longer spend any money on the building.

Some Councillors were hesitant to vote and make a decision with the Mayor absent, but Deputy Mayor Norcross plunged ahead with a desire he shared with other Councillors to take action, after inviting his colleagues to a last debate and opportunity to raise their concerns.

Councillor Sainsbury maintained her stance that Council should wait for the comprehensive Regional review to come in before pressing ahead with any major decisions.

“If we knock this down,” said Sainsbury, “and then we find out we have nothing…also, this

[demolition]

costs $400,000, and we’d be starting from scratch [with another building], and it’ll be more than the $3 million people have been concerned about…we’re knocking down a building that could be restored with people who know what they’re doing, and we could heat it for the same amount of money until we find out what the Doug Ford government is doing.”

Councillor Jebb echoed these sentiments, stating, “We did receive a report that it’s a structurally sound building…to replace it with another, it doesn’t make sense. I think we should keep recreation separate.”

Councillor Harrison-McIntyre responded with, “My concern has always been cost-saving, and we were told this [25 Albert Street] was the cheapest option.”

Countering these arguments, Councillor Lacey gave his two cents: “I understand that this is a difficult subject for a number of people.”

He expressed his interest again in exploring the NTRC option.

“It’s on our transit route, it has the land there, and we can build a pool after. A lot of towns,” he cited Innisfil here, “do not have their administration building in the downtown core…I don’t see the argument in using 25 Albert Street…if we bring an administration centre, it could entice other people to invest [in the NRTC].”

Councillor Beattie brought the matter to a head.

“We’re sitting here deadlocked, we have been for months…we have spent countless hundreds of thousands of dollars on studies…the talk of [creating] a hub [downtown] is not a viable solution. We have to start looking at what the NTRC offers…this is a clear option moving forward.”

Councillor Sainsbury was eager to get one last word of caution in before a vote was brought.

“I really think we’ve got the cart before the horse here…we need to know what we’re looking at,” clearly directed at a decision to wait until the Regional report comes through.

“I think we’re just deadlocked here,” Councillor Foster repeated. “A hung jury. And what it comes down to is vision…that’s the crux of it for me. The report indicates we have nothing to [lose] by knocking down [25 Albert Street]. To me it’s a win-win. Why would we spend thousands of dollars heating and electrifying an empty building? Putting this off is costing money…there’s nothing I won’t do to not allow this deadlock to carry on anymore.”

With that said, Deputy Mayor Norcross called for a vote on the amended motion, which has the demolition of 25 Albert Street proceeding, and staff looking at the blocking plan for the NTRC site to make a decision about where the future Administration Centre would be.

After a vote split right down the middle, in the absence of Mayor Milne, the motion was carried.



         


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