The new $22-million public works facility is starting to take shape at the former Coach Canada headquarters on Webber Avenue.
Construction is in full swing as the city looks to vacate the downtown Townsend Street public works yard by mid-2018, to allow city staff to fully explore all future development options for the site, like a new state-of-the-art OHL facility.
Public works manager Brian Jobbitt says the yard at Townsend Street is more than 70 years old and sits on just 3.7 acres of land, leaving little to no growth opportunities there but the new location at Webber Avenue is twice the size.
“We needed to move operationally to a location now, that will address today’s needs and future needs, said Jobbitt. “There’s no room for growth here and like I said with aging facilities and infrastructure and that type of thing, it’s getting a little more congested here.”
The steel frame for the fleet operation storage facility is taking shape, while Jobbitt says the project there is nearing 30 per cent completion and expects the facility to be complete in 10 months.
The location will also feature of 22,000 sq.-ft. salt and sand storage facility, with a new operation and administration building for staff.
“Now we’ll have a facility that will have basically current and up-to-date employee amenities,” said Jobbitt.
Meanwhile, the bus storage facility at Townsend Street will not be moved to Webber Avenue, instead, the city has shortlisted six options to house the bus depot.
A public meeting was held at city hall Wednesday night to review options.
“IBI, our consultant is working on this and will go back and take into account all the comments from the public before they start to make a more thorough process at looking at sites,” said City CAO Allan Seabrooke.
Potential sites include a brownfield property at General Electric along Park Street, along with several city-owned sites on Harper road and Ashburnham Drive.
Another suggestion is to merge properties at Fisher Drive and Jameson Drive, the plan is to clear the Townsend site as soon as possible as it’s prime city-owned real estate in the central core.
“The public would be aware that we are embarking on a sport and entertainment study for a facility and that location (Townsend) has been identified as one that will definitely be looked at,” Seabrooke said.
City staff says the OHL arena study should take six months to complete while the bus facility recommendation will likely come to council by spring.