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Gananoque council says it can’t afford the ‘Cadillac’ of town halls

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Gananoque Council says it can’t afford the “Cadillac” of town halls
The price-tag to renovate Gananoque's Town Hall has ballooned. As Morganne Campbell reports, council refused to accept the buds and has sent the architect back to the drawing board – Nov 20, 2017

Officials in Gananoque were shocked last week when they received bids to renovate the historic Town Hall.

“We don’t want the Cadillac we want the Chevy. You know, we want something that’s going to work for us,” said Mayor Erika Demchuk.

Council budgeted $2.5 million to build a two-storey addition and renovate the existing 186-year-old building. The project went to tender and all of the bids received were at least a million dollars over budget.

Sitting at $3.4 to $3.8 million.

Erika Demchuk says perhaps the architect’s plans called for too many bells and whistles, like self-flushing toilets and automatic sinks.

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“It’s great to be able to get off the toilet and it flushes or go to the sink and just put your hands underneath it and it goes but do we really need all of those things?”

The 9,000 square-foot addition is needed for office space, council chambers and to bring the structure up to building and fire codes. Right now, it isn’t accessible. So it’s back to the drawing board for +VG Architects and town staff.

Council hopes to see a figure closer to $2.5 or $2.8 million at its December 5th meeting.

Town staff is recommending council make a decision on the project as soon as possible.

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“I would assume that if we tendered again in a few years, of course, the price would go up if we were tendering the exact same project costs don’t stay the same and they don’t go down over time,”  explained Melanie Kirkby, Gananoque’s Treasurer.

There are some within the community who feel the project isn’t a good use of taxpayers dollars and that staff should be moved into other town-owned buildings.

“If they say well it’s going to cost another $1 million then it’s going to cost another $2 million. Like who are they kidding?” said Ed Dempster, a concerned resident and former firefighter.

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Council has to do something about the building to meet accessibility regulations, with a provincial deadline of doing so by 2025.

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