BLUEWATER – During the regular council meeting on December 6th, the city council decided to push ahead with a project to expand the community’s public workshop in Varna.
The application was accepted at the recommendation of city staff, and the project will include a six-bay expansion of the storefront that will cost the community an estimated $ 900,000.
As part of the application, employees will add $ 90,000 to the 2022 budget to design a public workshop.
The expansion should meet the needs of the civil engineering department after the loss of space due to the former Zurich street shed next to the fire station, which will become part of the fire station in the course of the expansion. The department is also trying to replace lost space from the former Hay Roads shed on Blind Line, which is “past its useful life” and in “poor” condition.
The option to demolish and replace the former Hay Roads shed was also presented to the council, although it was estimated that due to the demolition, the option would be more costly and one less bay than the proposed Varna expansion.
According to a report presented to the council during the meeting, the expansion of the Varna facility will centralize public works and allow the construction of six bays as the facility already includes a canteen, washrooms and office space.
Public Works Director Dave Kester said that centralizing the Varna Public Works Department would not bring about “drastic” changes and stressed that for the sake of simplicity, employees report to Varna as early as the summer months.
“The road workers report how it is now in various areas,” said Kester. “As for the services to the community, they would not be affected at all.”
Kester said that if the community decided to build a new facility on the Blind Line instead of expanding the facility in Varna, the existing salt / sand storage areas would have to be downsized and halving this area would not be feasible for the public , as these storage rooms can be almost full depending on the year.
“A cut in half to accommodate a new facility would actually be detrimental to our operations,” said Kester. “It wouldn’t allow us to be that efficient.”
With much of the community’s salt / sand storage facility located in Zurich, Kester confirmed that public construction vehicles would need to travel to Zurich before being dispatched through the community. He said it was possible that the salt / sand storage could someday be centralized in Varna, but since the Zurich storage facility still has a “useful life” it makes no financial sense to give it up.
Although not included in the plans for the project, Coun. John Becker said the expansion of the Varna facility could potentially provide an opportunity to eliminate other facilities scattered across the community, such as a public work building in Bayfield.
“If you want to expand in Varna, we look at the whole expansion and do everything at once and bring everything together,” said Becker. “You see these other churches building their buildings and it’s all in one place. They didn’t distribute them everywhere. “