News Local

Report pegs full repaving costs at $400K for Metro parking lot

By Patrick Bales, The Orillia Packet & Times

Metro shoppers rejoice: the parking lot is getting fixed.
The much-maligned asphalt surface is due for a facelift following Monday’s council committee meeting.
Councillors agreed to $35,000 in repairs to the pavement, a move which will be music to the grocers’ ears. City council will have the chance to give final consent to the move at its next meeting.
The city had directed staff in June 2016 to only focus on urgent maintenance needed at the 70 Front St. N. plaza, following its purchase earlier that year. However, ever since the city took ownership, Metro has been calling on the landlords to fix up the parking lot.
In the staff report to council committee, it was noted “Metro has indicated they have received complaints from their customers that shopping carts are hard to push, and have also stated they feel the cracks present a trip hazard.”
Still, some councillors needed to be convinced this was a wise way to spend city dollars.
“I’ve got some concerns that we’re doing repairs before ... the Front Street environmental (assessment) comes in and before this council decides what we’re going to do with the property,” Coun. Ralph Cipolla said. “I think the spending of these $35,000 is premature.”
Coun. Mason Ainsworth wondered if this was the first of several “patch” jobs needed for the parking while the property was still in the city’s possession. The staff report on the item indicated a full repaving of the parking lot would cost about $400,000.
“How many patch jobs will we be looking at in the future?” Ainsworth asked.
Councillors were told this money is the bridge the city needs in order to make it to the point where it has all the information about the role the 70 Front St. N. property will play in the redevelopment of the waterfront and Front Street.
“The reason we were going to do it now is to buy that amount of time,” said Ted Hill, property manager for the city. “A few more months, maybe a year.”
Given the parking lot is about 40 years old, the city is merely “buying some time,” with this move, Hill admitted. As short-term as this move may be, for the foreseeable future, Metro is part of the city-owned plaza, the chief financial officer told councillors.
“We do have a long-term lease with Metro,” said Bob Ripley. “Metro will be there for a number of years yet to come.
“We have some major alterations (to make) to the area down there,” the CFO added. “We think this will buy us enough time while we consider those major alterations and how they’re going to impact the overall parking in the future.”

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