County applies for grants to build archives and a new police station in Centre Wellington

If the federal and provincial governments are handing out cash for infra­struc­ture, Wellington County coun­cillors want a big chunk of it.

County council voted on Ap­ril 30 to make the con­struc­tion of the new county archives at Wellington Place as its highest priority for the Building Canada Fund’s sec­ond round of applications.

Another grant fund is called the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund, and county council is hoping for cash from that one to help build a new police station in Centre Wellington.

In each case, the federal gov­ernment would pay one third of the cost of each project, the province another one third, and the county the remainder.

Councillor Lou Maieron said, “The public wasn’t given notice” of a war­den’s advisory committee meet­ing where the top two projects were debated and then offered for council ratifi­cation.

Maieron said the admi­nis­tration, finance, and personnel committee could have been consulted.

He said, though, he was willing to ratify the proposals “if nobody else is concerned.”

Finance committee chair­man John Green pointed out the grant was announced Ap­ril 15 and the application deadline was May 1, the day after county council.

Green said that is a two week turnaround from getting notice of the grant to having staff do all the work to prepare the application documents. Fur­ther, he said, the county did not get the grant notice until after the administration, fin­ance, and personnel com­mittee meeting was held.

Warden Joanne Ross-Zuj told Maieron the turn­around time was short, and she believ­ed contacting the committee heads who sit on the warden’s advisory committee was the best way to get a quick con­sensus on which projects were needed and likely to be suc­cessful.

Councillor Walter Trachsel said, “My taxpayers would be some upset if I miss out on an $8-million grant … Let’s bring this back to reality.”

Councillor Lynda White, who is the county’s liaison with the Police Services Board, told council, “I don’t know what the big deal is. I was in Saskatch­ewan and I was aware [of the request for projects]. I got on the phone and talked to my committee members.”

She added, “That’s what the warden’s advisory committee does. The warden talks to the com­mittee chairs, and the chairs talk to their committee members.”

She concluded, “If we stand on process as opposed to get­ting $4- to $6-million, our tax­payers would be upset.”

County Treasurer Craig Dyer said the two grant appli­cations are different from each other, but, “We’ll have no problem getting them out.”

Councillor Jean Innes asked how council could know the costs when it did not know what it was going to build.

Dyer said that with the archives project, he can use ‘best estimates” from the bud­get for that work, scheduled to start this year and be done next year.

As for the police building, He said there is $6-million in the capital plan, and it is the same size as the Rockwood police station, which cost $4-million in 2005. He added that the cost by 2010 is likely to be about $6-million.

Maieron  then noted the warden’s advisory committee had also recommended enter­ing into negotiations with Ventin Group Architects, and to waive the normal county purchasing policy for the de­sign and development of de­tailed specifications for the police station.

He said Ventin did the Rockwood building, and it could probably use the same drawings for the Centre Well­ington police station.

Chief Administrative Offi­cer Scott Wilson pointed out the county will have to pay someone, no matter who it hires, and Ventin has an ad­van­tage having done the Rock­wood building.

Councillor Chris White agreed, and said with the short­ened time period for the grant, Ventin’s experience in Rock­wood will be useful.

Maieron said, “You can make as many copies [of the police station drawings] as you want.”

Wilson said the county does not know its costs yet, or the site plan, drainage, or other details. He added that Ventin had won the competition to build the Rockwood station.

“If Ventin doesn’t get the money, somebody else will get the money,” Wilson said, add­ing, of the new police detachment, “It won’t be the same build­ing.”

Ross-Zuj admitted that there is some tension because the grant application time is so short. She congratulated staff for working weekends to get the applications prepared.

“Some of the process is not what we usually follow,” she agreed. “The government is not interested in our processes. You’re either on the train or watching it go by.”

Councillor Brad Whit­combe said the government has promised it would “put people to work – fast. The federal gov­ernment has responded. Now we have to keep our part of the bargain. Wellington County is ready.”

Council then approved the two projects as top priority, and approved Ventin as the archi­tect for the police station.