Northeast Town carries on after March blaze destroys Little Current public works garage

LITTLE CURRENT—Snow plowing, garbage pickup and other town services have continued despite a fire last month which burned down the Northeast Town’s public works garage in Little Current, causing almost $1 million in losses and damages. Since the fire, town staff have been busy meeting with insurance adjusters and the fire marshal, figuring out how to move forward while maintaining services.

“As council is aware, there was a fire on March 20 at around 2:30 am at the Little Current public works garage behind the arena that caused significant damage to the building and equipment losses,” Northeast Town Dave Williamson explained at a special meeting of council last week. “We are here to provide you with an update of what has transpired and what will be occurring moving forward.”

“We have met with our adjuster and the good news is we have solid coverage,” continued Mr. Williamson. “In terms of our vehicles, we lost a snow plow, trackless and there has been significant damage to trucks. To date, the plow and the trackless have been declared write-offs, with the new trackless on its way and permission to go to tender for the plow. The (pick up) trucks are in (at a garage) getting minor repairs such as new windows.”

In the interim, the town has been using its Kabota with a blade to plow the sidewalks and Billings Township has lent the town a plow, while Assiginack Township and Central Manitoulin have been helping to plow bordering roads.

“We have got the go ahead (from the insurance company) to order anything that we need and have ordered a new steamer (to steam culverts) and replaced the generator that was lost,” added Mr. Williamson. “We are just dealing with the immediate right now.”

As for the building itself, the fire marshal has investigated the site, and although a report hasn’t be released yet, the fire was not listed as suspicious.

“The damage is so severe to the building that the entire garage will be torn down,” said Mr. Williamson, “and the project will be a total rebuild. The insurance will rebuild the structure for us using like materials and structure, but some factors may have to be changed due to changes in building codes, such as dirt floors, since the original structure was built.”

Mr. Williamson explained that if changes to the building code don’t dictate changes such as cement floors, council may want to pay for updates to the building such as cement floors and/or a steal beam structure (instead of wood). He said that council could go to tender for the basic garage rebuild (covered under insurance) and then separating the additional changes, which the town would pay for itself.

“Public works employees had been using the old town office as a base, but a trailer has now been set up by the old garage site, in addition to renting two bays at TC Auto and Marine (with the cost covered by insurance) for town vehicles and equipment,” said Mr. Williamson.

Mr. Williamson said the insurance company had recently brought in an inventory company that is working with town staff to complete a list of lost equipment and tools and will be working towards calculating the actual cash value.

“We are doing our due diligence with all purchases, ensuring we are getting a competitive price,” Mr. Williamson said. “Things are moving along well and we will continue to report back to council.”

Mr. Williamson shared that the cost of the garage re-build would be $506,400, with an estimated completion date of October.

robin@manitoulin.ca