© Herald photo by Perry Bergson
Community services director Jody Boulet, centre, is seen at Monday’s budget committee meeting. His department is the likely candidate to see four city-owned facilities close in the near future. Although Mayor Greg Dionne has declined to say which four facilities face closure, this isn’t the first time the city’s elected officials have discussed either closing or selling buildings.
The city has a hit list of four city facilities that face closure in the near future, Mayor Greg Dionne confirmed on Monday.
“We are putting four of our facilities, closing them and putting them up for sale, because the capital cost of maintaining them is just not worth keeping them,” he said after Monday’s budget committee meeting.
“Some will be torn down and the property will be sold for multi-(unit) housing … or residential units, so for the next two months you’re going to see lots of shifting of those.”
Dionne said that he is not ready to announce which facilities the city plans on washing its hands of.
“We’ve already met with three of the groups, and we have one more group coming -- they understand it, and we’re giving them the option to buy the building from us,” Dionne said.
“But they’ll have to pay taxes, because part of the reason we’re selling these buildings is they’re on prime property that we can recover good dollars in taxes, so that’s one of the goals as well.”
Although reluctant to name which civic buildings face the chopping block, this isn’t the first time the city’s elected officials have considered the closure of buildings.
During last year’s budget deliberations, the city’s elected officials debated the 182 buildings under their civic wing, of which 153 are of significance.
At the time, Dionne suggested that the Margo Fournier Centre should be marked for closure.
"It was my understanding (that) when we built the (Alfred Jenkins Field House) soccer centre that we were going to close the Margo Fournier Centre," Dionne said at the time.
"That was one of the proposals," then-community services director Greg Zeeben confirmed.
Within the city’s 2014 budget is $204,530 toward the Margo Fournier Centre, which operates at a 21 per cent cost recovery through user fees and operating grants and donations.
Another building under the city council microscope in recent years has been the Kinsmen Water Park, whose aging infrastructure has caused it some trouble on several occasions.
Although the water park operates at a 61.2 per cent cost recovery through user fees, it is still projected to cost the city $129,130 this year.
In March, 2012, Coun. Ted Zurakowski inquired as to whether the local Girl Guides organization would be interested in purchasing the Girl Guide Hall from the city at a cost of $1.
We are putting four of our facilities, closing them and putting them up for sale, because the capital cost of maintaining them is just not worth keeping them. Mayor Greg Dionne
The local Girl Guides group turned down the offer at the time -- a discussion sparked by an impeding re-roofing of the building, at what was initially anticipated to be a $73,460 cost to the city.
The project ended up going well over budget, something Dionne later noted “infuriated council.”
An additional $60,000 has been budgeted in 2014 to repair Girl Guide Hall beams.
In November, the city’s elected officials toured the Kinsmen Ski Hill’s log cabin to inspect the building after fielding a $15,000 request to re-roof the building, ultimately deciding against the expense at this time.
Although these are the only buildings the city’s elected officials have singled out in recent memory, a meeting in March of 2012 initiated an internal review of all 182 city-owned buildings, the details of which have yet to come public.
"A lot of the buildings we have in this city are not sustainable," Zurakowski said at the time.
"I think rather than burying our heads in the sand and saying 'things are fine, we'll cut costs and have the taxpayers bear that burden,' I think we have to look at them straight on and say, we have too many buildings."
The following buildings are listed in the community services departments’ 2014 budget. Their corresponding operational cost excludes add-ons such as external agency grant funding and capital projects. The E.A. Rawlinson Centre, museums and the Tourist Information Centre all receive additional civic grants.
This is far from a comprehensive list, with most city-owned buildings listed in a couple “other” categories within the department’s budget.
Alfred Jenkins Field House -- $401,490
Art Hauser Centre -- $578,910
Prince Albert Arts Centre -- $126,650
Bernice Sayese Centre -- $55,140
Community clubs -- $310,180
Kinsmen Water Park -- $129,130
E. A. Rawlinson Centre -- $145,520
City Hall - $438,930
Frank J. Dunn Pool -- $416,720
Kinsmen Arena -- $104,220
Margo Fournier Centre -- $204,530
Museums -- $124,220
Dave G. Steuart Arena -- $133,360
Tourist Information Centre -- $16,880