Lascelles Engineering's structural assessment of the Vankleek Hill building found several issues with the structure, including “signs of vertical displacement of the central supporting wall on the second floor, damaged/deteriorated floor system members in the basement and under-designed supporting frames”. The report, completed in June 2020 but released to the public last week, recommended that the library remain closed to the public until restoration work could be carried out.
The most urgent restoration requirements would cost an estimated $77,000. Other issues, including drywall repair or replacement, as well as a leak investigation in the basement of 94 Main Street East, was calculated to cost another $14,500. The total cost was estimated at $109,800 when a 20 percent contingency of $18,300 was included.
The assessment was issued with a bundle of documents related to the library building’s condition in Champlain council’s March 11 meeting agenda, including an EVB Engineering study from April 2019 and an inspection report from Pierre Tabet architecte in May 2020.
In a press release issued prior to the report’s public release, the municipality said $150,000 had been allocated for repairs to the building in the 2021 budget. Electrical and structural work, as well as the installation of fire alarm systems were underway, but had been delayed due to pandemic restrictions.
During a discussion about the report at Thursday night’s council meeting, L’Orignal ward councillor André Roy proposed sending letters to the public to determine whether they supported the expense of the repairs, “and should we look at other alternatives”. West Hawkesbury ward councillor Gerry Miner and Vankleek Hill councillor Peter Barton spoke against Roy’s motion.
Barton said the situation could be solved by the council rather than “public involvement or a referendum”. “I think the library is a service integral to the community and we need to get them back open,” he said. “I believe this group has been duly elected to represent the cares and concerns of the public.”
The motion was defeated. Roy and Longueuil ward councillor Michel Lalonde voted in favour, while all other councillors voted against.
Council staff were working with an engineering firm to develop a plan to address the building’s repair needs, as well as a one-to-five year budget for the work.