MORRISBURG – Another aging building in Iroquois in dire need of repairs once again sparked debate between council members and municipal staff when yet again a request for an engineering report was brought to the table.

Director of recreation and facilities Ben Macpherson provided a Key Information Report (KIR) to council in June on the expected costs to do a full flat rooftop replacement on the Iroquois Outdoor Rink building, which was estimated at $62,000. However, there was only $20,000 allocated for the outdoor rink in the 2018 budget with the difference likely coming from the Parkland Reserve leaving it at $123,214.

In the report, Macpherson changed his previous recommendation and now suggested that council pursue a storage shed option at a total cost of less than $4,500.

“I realize that I stated in June when we last discussed this, my recommendation was to put a new roof on it. After further review of our buildings and the cost associated with any kind of new roof on this, that I changed my recommendation. I’m well aware that I’ve changed my recommendation and I just want to be up front with it,” he said.

The roof had been patched last winter as a band-aid solution until staff and council could address it this summer.

It was clear that council favoured a roof replacement rather than a storage shed, but the wording on the report was called into question by Councillor Bill Ewing.

“The report states that the building is capable of carrying the weight of the roof. If we put a new flat roof on, it will carry it?,” he asked

“The walls are in good shape. It doesn’t necessarily state that it can handle the weight of the new roof,” replied Macpherson.

“I read it with a new roof system in place and with regular maintenance on the building it is expected to achieve a lifespan of an additional 20 years. They’re saying the walls will carry the roof with the weight on it the way I read it there, for another 20 years,” retorted Ewing.

He went on to suggest that a low sloped tin roof and new rafters would be a much easier and simpler solution.

“It should be a simple thing. You call a couple contractors, this is what we want to do. Give us a price,” said Ewing.

He pushed the idea saying he wanted an estimate on a low slope roof and called into question a $1,900 fee for Snetsinger Consultants and his structural engineer to perform a structural assessment.

Macpherson explained the report.

“There’s nothing that actually physically says in that [report] that that building, as it stands, can support that roof. It says, with a new roof you can get 20 years out of that building. That doesn’t say that building can actually hold a new roof. And that’s what Snetsinger has said. They would have to do an engineers report to determine what kind of roof, that structure given the age of it, can handle,” he said.

A fed up Deputy-Mayor Jim Locke proclaimed “why can’t we for once, do something like the people who furnish the money to us do it? There’s no question that building can hold a roof.

Can nobody stick their neck out a little bit and say we’re going to put a low sloped roof on that building. If we start getting into consultants and all the other rigmarole that we go through, forget it.”

“So you’re asking me to take a risk and put a roof on a building that we don’t know can handle it and if it collapses then my name is on that building? So I’m going to put my neck out?,” replied Machperson.

To which Locke replied, “I know you’re not going to.”

Delegarde brought a little levity to the escalating argument.

“I don’t think you can ask somebody to do that either… I don’t think that’s fair to ask that of him,” she said.

Councillor Archie Mellan asked Macpherson if the $1,900 would satisfy all the requirements and allow for the roof to be put on.

“No, in that same report in the same paragraph it says, ‘This fee does not include costs associated with contractor services required as part of the structural assessment.’ So it would be the initial cost for a contractor,” said Macpherson.

Mellan was also frustrated with the situation.

“We’re painted into a corner here. If we need to have an engineer to tell us that building will hold a roof and we can’t go ahead without it, now we’re stuck with an option of I don’t know.

Where are we supposed to go with this?,” said Mellan.

Macherson then gave the reasoning behind his latest recommendation.

“We’re looking at putting well over $20,000 into a building that gets used, if the winter is really good, which we don’t have a lot of anymore, for eight or 10 weeks maybe. We’ve got a lot of other buildings that need a lot of work,” he said. “It’s not an attempt to paint council into a corner. Getting a structural engineer to do this research are not the rules I made up, but are the rules that I am going to follow so that we do this properly.”

Councillor Marc St. Pierre wondered why a report was even necessary for a project he believed was just part of regular maintenance.

“Why do we need an engineer to tell us it’s a sound block building to put a roof on? Are we not just replacing what’s there? We’re basically replacing a roof with a roof. It’s a maintenance thing,” he said. “I don’t re-shingle my house and change a couple rafters and couple boards because it needs to be done. I don’t get an engineer to stamp a drawing. Whether it’s a public use or private use, I don’t understand. Help me with that. We’re doing maintenance to an existing building and that’s it, that’s all.”

Macpherson offered one final comment.

“There’s cracks throughout that foundation, there is some of the brick that has shifted out so we’re assuming we’re putting a roof right back on the original building,” he said.

Council voted to defer their decision and instructed staff to investigate the cost of temporarily repairing the existing roof or replacing it with a low sloped roof.