May 19, 2024
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By Matthew P. Barker
In Thorold, city councilors are concerned about a plan that would cost taxpayers seven figures to fix Lakeview Cemetery’s problems.

In Tuesday’s council meeting, councilors discussed gutting and renovating the cemetery’s administration building which was infested with mold due to an undiscovered roof leak during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was advised by a detailed staff report commissioned by the council to rebuild at 3651 Thorold Townline Rd. rather than renovate and that a rebuild would cost 25 to 30% more since the foundation would need to be replaced, as well as demolition costs.

It was decided not to rebuild the structure, instead of roof renovating it, with a cost estimate of close to $1 million. The council passed a motion to seek proposals for the construction phase.

“I find it very troubling that we will have to spend $1 million to fix this building when the new mausoleum will cost $2.5 million,” said Councilwoman Carmen DeRose.

“I think it’s a terrible waste of taxpayer money.”

DeRose was clearly frustrated by how long it had taken city staff to notice this issue.

It would be helpful if you could tell me how long they were aware of this water damage. Because I, as a taxpayer whose tax bill went up like everyone else’s, find it frustrating to know that we’re spending $1 million to fix a building that, in my opinion, is in good condition.”

Public Works and community services director Geoff Holman said the leak went undetected for a while because the building was used “as needed.”

“The fire panel had been compromised for quite some time, so there had been a leak in the roof,” he explained.

Although we cleaned it up with a fresh coat of paint, we hired Ontario Environmental to do a proper assessment because we were concerned about our staff working in this environment.”

The council agreed that the work was needed and that the improvements would allow the building to be updated, for which Coun. Henry D’Angela said it was compliant with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

In the current building, there isn’t a meeting room, so this will be very important for the cemetery, not only for the administration staff, but also for outside workers,” he said.

Even though it will cost more, it will allow for better customer service.

As I looked at the items, I wondered if all the electrical needed to be redone. Are all the lights out?” asked Coun. Tim O’Hare.

We want a great-looking building, but is there any infrastructure we can already utilize to reduce costs?”

D’Angela said the real cost estimate will be known once work proposals and bids are evaluated.

“That’s the number we have to deal with, maybe less, maybe more,” he said.

The citizens of Thorold will be proud of this, so let’s get this done.”

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