News Local

Lease termination plan sent to committee

Bob Bruton

By Bob Bruton, Barrie Examiner

The Barrie Community Woodshop is located in Victoria Village.

The Barrie Community Woodshop is located in Victoria Village. ZACH MACPHERSON PHOTO

Barrie Community Woodshop avoided the chop Monday.

City councillors sent a motion to close the Victoria Village shop to its community services committee after a safety audit had identified labour, fire code and dust problems.

Retrofitting the current space at Victoria Village carries an estimated $615,000 capital cost.

Coun. Bonnie Ainsworth, chairwoman of the community services committee, said she wanted it sent there to give herself some time to investigate. She wants to talk to staff, the woodshop members, Barrie fire department and Victoria Village to clearly understand why this is happening.

“And if there’s any other way this can be rectified,” she said. “I just want to make sure that due diligence is done … that I have a true understanding of the necessity and if there’s any other path that could be taken to help these people retain their space.”

“Maybe we can move it to a different location, at a much less inexpensive price,” said Coun. Rose Romita.

Capital costs for a retrofit include money for fire separation walls and ceilings (totalling $35,000), a commercial dust collection system ($150,000), an air conditioning system ($60,000), plus a spray booth with associated fans and duct work ($80,000).

“Even our staff don’t like having to make this recommendation,” said Mayor Jeff Lehman. “Nobody likes it, and it is a reality that the solution may be expensive, and the solutions that are in front of us are certainly expensive.”

City staff have recommended terminating the lease at Victoria Village for Barrie Community Workshop.

But Coun. Arif Khan said there may not be a choice.

“If it comes down to protecting the public and liability … we have to put an emphasis or a focus on the safety,” he said, “because I think we’d be in trouble if something happens, and then we said ‘oops, we should have taken a closer look at this’.”

In existence since 2004, Barrie Community Woodshop is a volunteer group using space leased by the city from Victoria Village on Ross Street.

The city subsidizes this at almost $28,500 annually, but that’s offset by the woodshop members contributing $10,500 - so the net cost is just short of $18,000.

It has 140 members, some of them seniors, who have completed numerous projects for Victoria Village, including new construction and repairs.

Several community groups have also been helped with projects, such as Barrie Curling Club, Boy Scout groups, the Terry Fox Run, Barrie Public Library and Emma King Public School.

Woodshop members contribute more than 4,500 volunteer hours toward supporting the club, special projects, training and supervision of the woodshop. Without the volunteers, most of these hours would have to be covered by paid staff.

The 2015 voluntary safety audit was done by Workplace Safety and Prevention Services. It identified upgrades required to meet the Ministry of Labour Employment Standards and the Fire Code.

The city was served an order last July under the Fire Protection and Prevention Act. It identifies a number of violations related to the dust collection system and ventilation not included in the safety audit.


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