The roof is extra

 

DSC_0345.JPG
Hudson Legion Branch 115’s clubhouse roof leaks. So does the adjoining curling rink roof. According to the town’s new grants and certifications co-ordinator, the rink roof isn’t covered by the Canada 150 infrastructure grant the town has applied for. What is covered? We don’t know, but we handed the town a blank cheque for $555,000.

I daresay Hudson residents are thoroughly fed up hearing about that $555,000 loan bylaw for Community Centre renovations.

Because Tuesday’s register failed to gather enough signatures to force a referendum or withdrawal of the bylaw, this administration can move forward with the project on the vow that if it doesn’t get a federal Canada 150 infrastructure grant to cover half the cost, it won’t dip into the loan money.

But I think taxpayers should know the new Legion curling rink roof is suddenly no longer covered.

The following was published in today’s Local Journal:

According to Corriveau [Simon Corriveau is the town’s new temporary full-time co-ordinator of grants and certifications] there are items in the renovation project […] that the grant will not cover.

”The roof over the curling rink is the only portion not included,” said Corriveau. “The rest of the building is used by other groups as well as the Legion,” he added, clarifying that because the ice sheet is used for a sport, it would be covered by another type of grant. “We are hoping for a response by the beginning of May,” Corriveau concluded.

I asked the town’s director-general Jean-Pierre Roy why the town has not been specific about how it proposes to spend up to $555,000. He said the decision was to keep the renovation details deliberately vague so that the grant application wouldn’t risk disqualification.

Essentially, Tuesday’s failed register writes this administration a blank cheque for $555,000. This is fact, not Jim Duff’s opinion.

Bylaw 687 makes no reference to federal grants, matching funds or what is and isn’t eligible. All it says is that taxpayers are on the hook for the next 20 years. If you want to read it, it’s posted on the Town Hall bulletin board.

Curious taxpayers will find the administration’s to-do list on the town website. They should know this post has no legal status and isn’t binding on the current council, except perhaps ethically. This is the only public document where ‘roof’ is mentioned.

We would like to make the necessary repairs to the building such as replacing the roofing, electrical connections and upgrading the kitchen facilities. Also, since the community centre was designated as a place of refuge for emergency measures on February 25, 2016, some of the building’s mechanical components such as air conditioning, heating, lighting and sanitary installations must be redone. This will allow us to replace old energy-consuming equipment that uses a lot of water with newer installations that consume less, thereby saving us money. In addition, the windows must be changed as traces of water infiltration have been detected and several of them do not lock. Lock mechanisms and door locks must all be changed in order to ensure the safety of the users. In some areas, the floor is quite worn and it is possible to see the underlying concrete. We also want to redo the exterior parking lot and its lighting, build a bike stop for cyclists and set up an access ramp for people with reduced mobility to give them access to the youth centre. It is also planned to expand the kitchen and build small meeting rooms to allow community groups to meet.

Why an umbrella bylaw?
This type of bylaw allows us to make various expenses (plans and specifications, repairs, additions, etc.) without limiting our options. As the Town must act quickly to complete the work before the end of the year and needs some flexibility, the decision was made to proceed with an umbrella bylaw. To carry out this multifaceted project, the Town will have to commission an architectural and engineering firm to evaluate the scope and costs of the work to be done. Only once the estimate has been produced will we be able to make judicious and informed choices regarding the project priorities in order to ensure that we respect the allocated budget.

The town’s post notes the work must be completed by Dec. 31 in order to qualify for federal funding.

Many interpret the results of Tuesday’s register as the end of the process and act as if it’s a victory. In fact it’s neither. It’s public recognition of the need to maintain an important component of Hudson’s public life, yes. But the same hard questioning that marked the process of adopting the bylaw must continue into the evaluation and renovation processes.

Why am I so suspicious? Some years back, I got a call from a former Hudson councillor. He told me how, during the original construction of the Community Centre, the council of that time quietly voted to transfer $150,000 earmarked for lighting and other improvements in St. Thomas Park to the Community Centre, which was running over budget.

I asked him why, after all that time, he was calling me with this. “I thought you should know how it works,” he said.

As I posted last week (Plan B), we know the town already has a $160,000 contingency plan to fund the new roof and kitchen upgrades in the event the grant application is rejected. I assume this is what will happen if there’s suddenly no federal cash for a curling rink roof.

This morning Maître Roy and I spent 45 minutes discussing the difference between fact and opinion (This will be a topic for another post).  I will hereafter do my best to separate the two and alert readers before I shift from one to another.

The following is my opinion:

The price of democracy is eternal vigilance. Tuesday’s passage of the loan bylaw doesn’t change that responsibility. If anything, it makes it an imperative.

Advertisements

26 thoughts on “The roof is extra

  1. Opinions are formed when a person absorbs facts.

    In absence of valid or sufficient facts opinions are not accurate, but mental pot-shots at a conclusion.

    There is a stage of the grant that’s not being talked about. Especially with a purposely vague project definition to make sure we’re not disqualified for approval. The only work eligible for the 50% subsidy will those items specifically allowed by the grant program.

    A review or an audit will examine our request for reimbursement, which happens only on project completion after we’ve spent all the money. That will likely happen in early 2018 when the department is overloaded with deadline delivered applications for funding. Hudson, specifically the next Council will deal with any items that don’t get funded and are then simply long term debt that might be higher than we expected.

    So it’s imperative that all work being done on this by-law be grant eligible or there may be surprises later.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I am discouraged, fed up, and not in a happy place. Citizens are just not listened to and the ones who comment or complain are treated as whiners. Transparency is all an illusion. All I want is a well run town where my taxes are being spent properly where you actually see public security or public works around town. Look around you, there are broken and bent stop signs that have been that way for ages, garbage all over the place including wine and beer bottles on the side of the road, terrible streets (I know the cleaning truck went by to get rid of all the sand but with all those potholes and crevices much is still there). I get the impression people just don’t care. Very sad indeed.

    Like

  3. In Bhutan, schoolkids and their teachers head out on Saturday mornings with giant garbage bags to gather trash. Their roads are as bad as Hudson’s but the countryside is free of garbage and the kids have an appreciation for how their communities look.
    Rather than complaining about how messy the town looks, why don’t we organize a citizen’s cleanup bee? I’m ready to help organize. I’m sure the Guides, Brownies, Scouts, Cubs and Beavers would chip in. We might even get some kids from the schools.

    I think people need encouragement to care. Right now it’s lacking but a show of solidarity would work wonders.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Jim, I pick up the garbage starting a bit east of Rousseau and as far as the train tracks on Mte Lavigne…… every year. There is a lot. I usually do at least 4 large bags every spring. I walk back home, get in my car and drive back over my tracks to pick up the bags, bring them home and put them in my little green garbage bin. EVERY YEAR! Then I do Rousseau to Thompson park. Honestly, it’s a losing battle, and trust me, I have enough work to do on my own property. But the last thing I want is for all of the Sunday drivers and Saturday visitors driving to Finnegans to see this mess! Why does this happen in 2017? Why does not every resident take responsibility for their own 50 ft stretch of road? My conclusion: nobody cares!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. OK because I and a friend spent the July of 1973 putting the shingles on the Legion roof from up here I might have the detailed picture. You guys are not supposed to stand around yelling at me to jump either.
    The Community Center main bldg. roof is metal so I guess that is not being redone = 6500 sq.ft.
    The Office Part is Tar and gravel and it probably is tired = 3200 sq.ft.

    The social part of the Legion is shingled and barely limping = 4300 sq. ft.

    The ice rink roof is in the same state …shot = 8000 sq.ft.

    So, I know you’re really excited now . Only 70 % of the building needs redoing but 50% of that isn’t eligible for the grant.
    It’s the stickler for detail part of me. They tell me there’s medication…

    Liked by 2 people

  5. “I asked the town’s director-general Jean-Pierre Roy why the town has not been specific about how it proposes to spend up to $555,000. He said the decision was to keep the renovation details deliberately vague so that the grant application wouldn’t risk disqualification.” I’m at a loss for words. The federal grant is there for specific purposes–so now the town is openly admitting that it was deceptive in its grant application. Jim, when we applied for that trails building grant for SVS, we knew the purpose was to help ski-doo clubs (a source of tourist dollars and big contributor to the economy). We were honest in that grant application and got peanuts as a result. But I feel better then if we had pretended that we were building a ski-doo trail. Its public money, you may disagree with how the government allocates it but you shouldn’t be deceptive in order to get it. This paraphrasing of what Me Roy said sums up a lot for me about the way the town has gone about this.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. You’re right but I wonder how many residents would agree to forego the public consultation usually required for loan and zoning bylaws if it helps get the money. If what this administration says is true.

      Like

  6. As for Bhutan, at the heart of their culture is a philosophy that your own individual view is much less important that compassion for others and your society. Mahayana schools of thought would tell us to not act from confused mental states (anxiety, fear, anger, jealousy, desire, depression) also known as kleshas. Their leadership has embraced an idea known as sustainable happiness. This isn’t polyanna stuff-its very hard work. Check it out: https://www.ted.com/talks/tshering_tobgay_this_country_isn_t_just_carbon_neutral_it_s_carbon_negative So just to be contrarian: prayer and optimism do help a little.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Bhutanese are entrepreneurial, resourceful people who don’t wait for others to do the job. The entire country is on 3G and you’ll find free wifi in many places. Everyone has a smartphone and pays the eqivalent of less than a dollar CDN a month. Their form of Buddhism is big on self-sufficiency and they consume enormous quantities of Druk 1100 beer and the excellent Bhutanese scotch. That’s 11 percent alcohol. Marijuana grows naturally everywhere but nobody smokes it because the royal family says it’s the hallmark of losers. The royals are beloved, mostly because they mingle with their subjects. All this to say it’s not the goody twoshoes country it’s portrayed as.

      Like

  7. Jamie, Bhutan believes in Gross National Happiness. The King and Queen live in a fairly modest house. The Bhutanese are encouraged to have their own garden to grow as much food for themselves as possible. Sharing is the norm. No one measures themselves on the size of their house or the type of car they drive. The wealth is shared. But then again, Bhutan believes limiting tourism is the way to avoid their residents from become corrupted by our western ways. Only 4500 tourists are allowed to visit annually. They set a hefty daily tourist fee of $250 US per person a day, at least that is what it was when we visited. You must apply to be allowed in the country, don’t think of extending your stay because you get a visa allowing you in for the prerequested time and you must use an accredited Bhutanese tour operator. No self-serve tourism is allowed. And the country only allows tourism for 6 months of the year. It takes that long afterwards to bring the Bhutanese back to Gross National Happiness Himalayan style. I had talked about going for 25 years,it did not disappoint.

    Like

  8. I’ve always considered myself an optimist, a “glass-is-half-full” kind of person, however, my optimism for this town has been eroded considerably of late. 2013 was bad enough but I really hoped things would improve once there was a change in administration. It hasn’t yet. To say I was disappointed that this by-law went through is an understatement. I didn’t like it because there were too many questions left unanswered and still are. Add to that, learning that the DG left the grant application vague on purpose does not bode well for rules being followed. I remember asking myself how a former DG, with tons of experience running a town, didn’t know a taxable benefit when it was staring her in the face, well, this is a DG who is a lawyer so presumably he knows it’s in the best interest of the town to be forthcoming on grant applications and should have known that a roof is maintenance and wouldn’t be covered. Just had to read the criteria. So, am I skeptical, yes.
    I still don’t understand the statement by the town’s grant person that if the ice structure needs to be replaced it wouldn’t be covered, but the town is waiting to hear if there are other “sports” grants that are available. I wish someone would explain to me if the town, as owner of the building, is also responsible for the curling rink and everything that goes in it (pipes, compressors, electricity, generator, etc.) Would it not be the responsibility for the Legion as an organization, to apply? Would it not be payable out of the membership fees? I’m totally confused on this issue. Who is responsible for what? For how long? how many members are actual veterans? Is the town subsidizing cheap beers and dinners at taxpayer’s expense as the town picks up all the other expenses? What expenses is the town actually picking up?
    I would like residents to start to feel proud of their town again, Matt and I included. Jim, your suggestion to start a cleaning bee is admirable but I won’t be taking part. For those who know me and have worked with me, know that I am not ungenerous with my time; however, the town administration and the employees we pay through our taxes, should be doing the upkeep. I remember when previous administrations hired someone to go around in the town centre on Mondays after events to clean up. There is no excuse for broken stop signs, no excuse for a “Watch for our Children” sign on Maple which has been down at least 2 years, there is still no barrier for that eyesore of a burned down house on Main on MacCauley hill and never an update of when it will be cleared, there are roads that have actually caved in, take a look at the road in front of James Parry’s house, maybe put some gravel in the hole?. I think if the town administration gives the message that they don’t care for the day-to-day, only achieving their Strategic Plan vision, then the residents won’t either. Nice to have dreams but municipal politics is all about the day-to-day services. Here are a couple of suggestions for the next administration – boost morale with employees by having an employee appreciation day, have another one for volunteers. Previous councils treated their volunteers to a lunch every year or two. Trust me, it’s not for the free lunch, but everyone likes to feel appreciated. Public security patrols the streets, why don’t they jot down things that need fixing, and text public works? Not allowed because of union rules? “Pas ma job” – this is not a movie set if you touch something you are not responsible for, there could be a walk-out until the union guys settle the matter.

    Like

  9. Just to clarify – the Royal Canadian Legion is a tenant – They are not responsible for the structural integrity of the building including the roof- that falls squarely in the lap of the Town as Landlord.

    The Legion sold the land on which the community centre (including the curling rink) sits to the town back in 1994 for one dollar in exchange for being able to remain a tenant in their existing space together with a committment from the town to make improvements to their space (I forget the amount) at the time.

    Like

    1. Thanks for correcting that perception. The Legion clubhouse and curling rink roofs are the town’s responsibility. Do you know whether the town has a similar responsibility to subsidize Legion or Manoir Cavagnal tenant parking?

      Like

      1. There is insufficient parking at the Manoir. While the town has no legal responsibility to provide additional parking for their residents, when asked we agreed to allocate 4 spaces in front of Treehouse in the public parking lot. With respect to the Legion, there was no clause about parking in the original purchase agreement or subsequent lease.

        Like

      1. The town as far as I know bears no responsibility with respect to maintaining the “curling” equipment in the rink including the ice, compressors, etc.

        Like

    2. Doesn’t that arrangement essentially run counter to the Cities and Town’s act article 28.
      (1.0.2)  Unless otherwise provided, no municipality may acquire or build property mainly for leasing purposes.

      Or am I missing something? Or was it grandfathered? As far as I know , article 29. says that the only permitted leaseholders of a town building are a health provider, a school or a child care centre. Did the designation as an emergency shelter somehow get the Legion part into the health designation and exempt from article 28? Was this done in the best interests of the town because these buildings were the best suited as emergency shelters (In my opinion one of the schools would probably be better candidates for emergency shelter during a disaster) or was it done because it provided a loophole to allow the agreement made between the town and the legion?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The main purpose for the town was to acquire a piece of land on which to build a community centre for which we were eligible to receive a federal/provincial infrastructure grant. The legion at the time was struggling financially so it was thought to be a win win situation for both parties.

        Like

  10. I am not a member of the Legion , never was. My dad was and was a veteran like a lot of the others of that generation. As Liz says in 1994 the Town acquired the Hudson Royal Canadian Legion and its 70,000 sq. ft. of land for $1. That’s more than an acre and one half of commercial/ multi-family residential land in the center of Hudson. Don’t know what its market value was then but now just the land would have to be worth 1.5 million conservatively. Seems to me the Legion could have kept their land and bldg. to themselves and sold the vacant land where the community center now stands for about $750K in today’s market and I’m guessing they wouldn’t have to put up with a 30 yr. old roof leaking on their heads. Ok , and they’re paying rent , and if someone says , “yah but they’re getting a really good deal” just ask Jim and Louise how easy it is to find tenants for downtown space in Hudson. Again look at the Legion and try to figure out what maintenance the Town done has done there since 1994.
    Anyone can join the Legion so its not anywhere close to some private exclusive club. I just don’t see involving the Legion’s name in any of this except to feel they didn’t get the best deal.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s