UXBRIDGE: Immediate repairs are needed to the Thomas Foster Memorial in order to prevent a costly and catastrophic collapse, council heard recently.
Ross Gillespie of engineering firm Aecom made the grim announcement to councillors as part of a presentation at council’s meeting on the morning of Monday, Aug. 12.
Aecom has regularly done work on the Foster Memorial for the past 20 years, and was asked by the township to assess work to be done on the building in the coming years in an audit which was completed this past May.
Mr. Gillespie’s report to council included a number of items at the Foster Memorial which are in need of immediate attention. Amongst the items on the immediate priority list are ventilating and insulating the attic, a lightning protection system, upgrades to the roof’s drainage system, and, most pressing of all - the replacement of the copper roof’s centre dome - carrying an estimated cost of $165,000.
The total cost of the immediate repairs needed at the Foster total almost $291,000, and a total cost of necessary repairs over the next five years pegged at close to $900,000, leaving members of council scratching their heads as they attempt to fund the project.
"The provincial and the federal governments won’t recognize this building, so it falls on the backs of local taxpayers," said Mayor Gerri Lynn O’Connor. "I feel very strongly, as I think everybody on this council does, that this building has to be preserved, but it starts with how we’re going to pay for it. It’s a million-plus dollars over the next five years and Uxbridge can’t afford that."
Mayor O’Connor added that she feels council should write both the federal and provincial ministers of heritage and offer an invitation to view the building along with a copy of Mr. Gillespie’s report on the building. However, she noted that in the recent past when local MP Bev Oda served as federal Heritage Minister, no funds were received by the township towards the preservation of the Foster Memorial.
Ward 1 Councillor Bev Northeast, who has served on the Foster Memorial Committee since 1992, was saddened at the deterioration of the historic building.
"It’s really sad to see the building in this kind of shape, being of Visentin architecture, the only one in North America and we have it here in Uxbridge," added Councillor Northeast.
Ward 3 Councillor Pat Mikuse noted that the next intake for Trillium grants for provincial funding is in November, and the township should look at preparing a request for funds.
"It’s time we look at saving this unique building," added Councillor Mikuse.
Responding to a question from Ward 4 Councillor Jacob Mantle as to what the worst case scenario for the township should they not do anything, Mr. Gillespie offered a grim prognosis.
"Over a couple of years, the roof would collapse. It would be a two to three-year time frame based on what I saw."