Iroquois campground building on hold

MORRISBURG – The replacement building for the municipally-owned campground in Iroquois moved another step forward, and one step back, at the July 17th South Dundas council meeting held in Morrisburg.

Council voted to approve the agreement in principle between the municipality and Iroquois-resident John Ross to oversee the construction of the new multi-use building.

But there were complications which have led to the project being placed on hold.

Two matters were discussed at the meeting held in council chambers at the South Dundas Municipal Centre in Morrisburg.

First was budget, second the agreement with Ross.

The first discussion focussed on whether the budget for the new building was to be $360,000 or $350,000. The extra $10,000 was money allocated in the municipal budget for the demolition of Forward House. All five members of council were in agreement that the $10,000 was not to be moved from Forward House to the campground project.

The Forward House allocation is to be left in place for future work, repairs or other needs for that building.

With the budget set at a firm $350,000, council moved into discussions of what expectations there were with that price tag.

“All in. Everything,” said deputy-mayor Jim Locke. “Demolition, new building, cleaning up the site.”

Councillors Bill Ewing, Marc St. Pierre and Archie Mellan were in agreement, as was mayor Evonne Delegarde.

In the second matter during the meeting, Ross presented to council what had been designed so far with the new building, and the challenges therein.

The building design features a common room, a laundry facility, handicap accessible washrooms and family washrooms, new showers, and a kitchen for use by groups including the airport and the Iroquois Lawn Bowling Club.

Ross described the building as being the minimum that would be needed based on current codes.

“Everything has to be commercial specification now,” he told council. “I checked with a lot of experts and did research on what others campgrounds have.”

He described to council that there would be only one washer and dryer for users and that it would help with campers who have mobility issues to be able to do laundry on site.

The kitchen was designed to be an empty room for now. Ross stated that the lawn bowling club would fundraise for the kitchen equipment with the understanding that once installed it belonged to the municipality.

“They are looking forward to fundraising for this,” Ross told council.

He described in detail the exterior cladding for the cement block building, to make it look appealing. Ross also said that he would pay for the cladding, and the windows for the common room.

There was some back-and-forth between council and Ross at the meeting about the final budget numbers. Ross told council that the building would cost about $410,000 without the cladding, kitchen, and the finishing of the common area. Council reiterated that the budget was set at $350,000 including all demolition work, cleanup, and constructing the new building.

Ross said he understood the budget was $350,000 plus the $56,000 in engineering and design costs that the municipality would have had to pay out. That $56,000 was being saved by Ross doing the work or paying for any design or engineering work himself.

When council maintained a hard cap on the budget of $350,000, Ross said it could not be completed for that budget.

Council voted to accept the agreement between Ross and South Dundas in principle as it was presented in the agenda package.

Delegarde commented that accepting the agreement was “moot” because Ross had already said he couldn’t do the work for the price.

In an interview with The Leader after his presentation, Ross said he was not surprised with the outcome, but disappointed.

“That budget is absolutely not possible for any campground building, no matter how small,” he said. “It would not produce a usable campground building that would meet the regulations.”

The new building would have to meet provincial regulations based on the number of campsites in the campground. Iroquois has 70 sites, none with sewer hookups.

“It was the least expensive design that I could come up with that still met the requirements,” said Ross. “I know it is council’s duty to minimize the cost to the taxpayers. However there is a minimum threshold that you cannot go below and provide a useful result.”

He said the building had to be designed to last 50-to-60 years, be durable and meet all the needs of the campground, the lawn bowling and airport groups.

Ross said that he didn’t think that having the multiple groups accommodated in the new building increased the costs by much.

“The kitchen was to be an empty room with the necessary plumbing hookups,” he said.

“With the different groups out, the kitchen could have been reduced to just a canteen to serve coffee, but it would not have saved anything.”

Until the municipal election is over in October, Ross said he did not see any further movement on the campground building issue. He believes that South Dundas is still going to have to build a new building soon.

Since 2016, new or redesigned municipal buildings must be compliant with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. This includes expansion or renovation of existing buildings which is why the municipality looked at building a replacement structure at the campground.

“The building is at the end of its life. It’s remarkable it has lasted as long as it has.”

Despite the outcome, Ross said his offer of help is still there, along with the money he planned on donating towards the building.

“I was very pleased with the input from everybody involved,” Ross said. He added that he learned a great deal from the process. “I am not going away mad. The need is still there and I have done all the leg work, and shown how it can be done.”