Services review leads Wellington North to propose idea of shared public works garage

KENILWORTH – As Wellington County municipalities received a final services review report outlining opportunities to find efficiencies, Wellington North is proposing a works garage shared by the county and the township.

The services review was part of township council’s Dec. 2 open forum.

Mayor Andy Lennox said “I thought it would be a good idea to look at this related to our corporate strategic plan.”

Lennox asked whether the report means the township “might need to look at changing its direction for the coming months or years.”

When looking at today’s open forum, CAO Mike Givens looked at the issue in terms of generating efficiencies.

Lennox suggested that number one in the area of opportunities, he considered a top priortity is the idea of a shared public works facility for the county and Wellington North.

He noted earlier in the meeting Wellington County councillor Steve O’Neill mentioned the county’s plan to build a new county works facility in Arthur.

“There may be opportunities for Wellington North to proceed in that process – to see if we could jointly work on a project.”

The county is considering building its new Arthur facility in 2021.

Lennox said replacing the township works facility may not have been a top priority locally, but this opportunity warrants serious consideration – especially if can help reduce costs for all services in the municipality.

Councillor Dan Yake asked if the county had already partnered with Mapleton Township with its public works facilities.

The mayor explained the county and township facilities are at the same location, share a wash bay for equipment and fuel.

He added “while there is the appearance the two facilities are on the same site, they are two separate pieces of property and operate independently.”

Lennox believed there may some appetite at the county level to look at a greater degree of sharing.

“I think there are opportunities, given the age of some of our facilities in Arthur and we should consider looking at this.”

He commented, “I don’t see the value of most of what was done in Mapleton, I think one site and one facility would make a lot more sense than two.”

McCabe said he hoped that perhaps Wellington North could avoid some of the pitfalls experienced in Mapleton.

Lennox noted that Arthur is a great example of how shared facilities would benefit the community.

He said people in Arthur currently see three public works facilities – MTO, county and township – all serving the same residents.

Combining (some of) that work under one roof makes sense, McCabe said.

Lennox agreed doing this will require a time commitment and some flexibility from both the township and the county to find a solution suitable for everyone.

McCabe asked if any properties for the new county site had been looked at.

“There’s been a bit of tire kicking, but it is all tentative at this point,” Lennox said.

The mayor noted he had initiated a conversion with staff on the potential of a location suitable for both the county and the township.

“I think there is a fair bit of work to go into this.”

Lennox said he considered this a chance to update township infrastructure while at the same time working with the county updating its infrastructure.

He noted that even though the project is part of the county’s 2020 budget, Wellington North would need to look at financing its part of such a project.

“If we are going to pursue this, there needs to be support around this table,” Lennox added.