Council notes: costly facility upkeep bills on the horizon, trails committee formed

Greater Napanee council meets within the town hall chambers.

Adam Prudhomme

As its 20th birthday approaches next year, Napanee’s Strathcona Paper Centre is due for some hefty upkeep bills.

These approaching costs were brought to council’s attention during their regular meeting on June 6.

Chris Brown, the town’s facility manager, presented council with a brief overview of future capital spending needs for all of the town’s facilities. The SPC was top of the list with a projected average yearly requirement of $420,920.

Among the priorities at the SPC listed for consideration in the 2024 budget are a new condenser ($220,000), a swing gate for the Goodyear rink ($29,000) and rubber flooring replacement for the Home Hardware rink ($57,000).

Replacing the metal roofs at both the South Fred Hall ($400,000) and the Public Works South Fred Garage ($100,000) also made the list of the top nine priorities. Town Hall checked in at number three on the priorities with $70,000 needed for exterior improvements.

All told 14 facilities were included in the report.

“As we look five years down the road, we can see that approximately $1 million per year is required for us to fund these capital improvements,” Brown told council.

It was also noted that nine of the town’s 14 playgrounds would reach the end of their useful life in 2024.

“Each and every year we do a very comprehensive playground inspection by a third party that lets us know the condition of our playgrounds,” said Brown. “Each and every year we’re spending a little bit more money making sure that they’re safe for our kids to play on. We have to have some sort of strategy, whether we’re putting money away for future years to start replacing some of these structures and of course we’re going to be replacing them with accessible and good for all age groups.”

Mayor Terry Richardson commented that the report will be helpful in helping them make budget decisions next year as council voted to note and receive the report.

-After a lengthy discussion, council voted to appoint six citizens to the Ad Hoc Trail Committee.

The discussion centred on whether or not a member of council would be appointed to the committee, with council ultimately deciding to keep as strictly members of the public. The committee will report to council as they work on a way to establish an urban walking trail through town using the abandoned CN Rail bed. Appointed members were Dave Milligan, Mark Hamel, Shawn Davey, Tom Touzel, Liz Touzel and Mike Sewell. Tom Touzel and Milligan were named co-chairs of the committee.

-Council authorized the town to enter a full term renewal of the license agreement with Via Rail and the town’s train station, located at 301 John St.

Town staff was also directed to solicit proposals for alternate uses of the train station that would be compatible with its continued use as a passenger stop.

“I think what we’re trying to do now is determine the continuation of the lease and then we’re going to get into the discussion of the price and future stops at that train station, how do we make it more accessible for Napanee residents,” explained Greater Napanee CAO John Pinsent.

In the report submitted to council, Via Rail outlined ridership numbers at that stop from the last three years, starting with 3,461 riders in 2019, down to 917 during the 2020 pandemic, rising to 1,347 in 2021 and 2,359 in 2022.

The post-pandemic decline can be attributed in large part to the cancelation of Train 651, an early morning commuter route to downtown Toronto.

Councillor Dave Pinnell Jr. urged staff to continue to push for Via to bring that route back.

“It is important for 651 to reinstate, to have a stop here in Napanee,” said Pinnell Jr. “For people that don’t know about 651, that’s the train that stops here around 5:55 a.m., just before 6 a.m. in the morning and will get you into Toronto bright and early. It’s a good stop for us here.”

-Napanee Legion Branch 137 was given the green light to establish a temporary licenses patio area in front of their 26 Mill Street E. location on July 1 as part of a Canada Day barbecue celebration. The patio will run from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

-Council voted to make a pair of proclamations, recognizing June as both Senior’s Month and Stroke and Aphasia Awareness Month.

-In a bit of a departure from their regular schedule, council will next meet on June 27. From there they will enter their summer schedule of just one regular session per month, meeting July 11 and Aug. 29.


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