Mississauga City Hall, community centres, hockey rinks, not getting funds for essential repairs, FOI reveals
Staff in Mississauga’s Facilities and Property Management department are talented jugglers.
Adequate service levels, budget requests, sudden amendments to priorities, unexpected health and safety issues—the balls are constantly looping through the air.
The team is responsible for all City-owned/leased buildings with a current replacement value of $2 billion.
But juggling this many items—with an extremely tight budget—can make it hard to stay on top of every City building, and sometimes certain areas are ignored. A previous investigation by The Pointer exposed how a lack of investment in the City’s fire halls had led to a series of health and safety concerns, triggering the creation of a multi-million dollar financial strategy to fund the necessary repairs taking place over the next several years.
About 220 employees will execute the $25.9 million operating budget, hoping to adequately maintain the 52 percent of buildings over the age of 30, according to 2020 figures. The capital budget has increased significantly over the past few years in order to address the replacement cost of buildings.
“Over the next 10 years, we expect increases to the F&PM (Facilities and Property Management) capital budget to average $48 million per year,” the City’s budget documents reads.
This year, the department is planning on investing $33.9 million in capital upgrades to address the City’s oldest building stock. Most of the facilities budget is dedicated to lifecycle renewal and rehabilitation each year. The repairs can be a part of a longer term plan to redevelop the building or a minor maintenance fix to make sure it continues to run smoothly. In 2022, the city is planning on spending $23.6 million on items near the end of its lifecycle to maintain a state of good repair.
There are seven large scale projects over $1 million being allocated in 2022 for upgrades. The remainder of the budget is made up of smaller lifecycle repairs or infrastructure upgrades.
The Pointer has compared the 2022 budget and those buildings receiving funding, with corresponding results from a 2020 internal building condition assessment report obtained through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. The buildings highlighted are ones the public or city workers interact with, and have the most dire needs according to the audit.
The heart of Mississauga’s municipal democracy—City Hall— is in a desperate state of decay, only seeing a fraction of the costs for 2022 that were recommended in the 2020 inspection report.
The building was constructed in 1987, and now exceeds 30 years of age. The older buildings get, the more prone to failure the systems that keep it workable will be. According to the inspectors in 2020, City Hall was seeing “significant” water infiltration through the public parking concrete roof deck. Along with a need to upgrade mechanical and electrical infrastructure. Around the outside, the two inspectors noticed damage and deterioration of the brick veneers.
The document indicates repairs and updates in 2022 should cost approximately $16.1 million, followed by an increased investment in 2023.
In 2021, the City purchased a mobile generator for $1.2 million, it was the sole expense for City Hall that year. Between 2020 and 2022 the City, according to the inspection audit, should have spent upwards of $19.6 million.
“Projects of this size take longer than one year to execute. These projects are cash flowed over 2 to 3 years to complete, with the design in year 1 and the construction in year 2 and 3,” Raj Sheth, director of facilities and property management told The Pointer in an email. “The total budget for this project is $13.4 million cash flowed over three years.”
The project being allocated the most money in 2022 is the City Hall upgrades at $3.8 million, but it still falls short from what the audit recommended. The budget explains a second part of a generator renewal is being completed for $1.9 million, a critical expansion joint is needing to be repaired for $1.2 million and two other lines explain lifecycle repairs for $500,000 and a separate $112,000 joint repair.
In total the audit recommended $16.1 million be invested in City Hall for 2022 and the city budget indicates only $3.8 million.
City Hall has seen renovations for years and will continue to need upgrades in the next decade.
(City of Mississauga)
Approximately, 36 metres away, the needs of the Living Arts Centre are also being largely ignored. In 2022, the facility will get a $1.1 million “renewal” investment and a “critical mechanical renewal” for $220,000.
The small allocation of money is a fraction of the investment required to address the serious damages reported by the two inspectors in 2020. Exterior wall panels are badly cracked with age, primarily the corner nearest to the dining area, pedestrian entrance and a southern corner on the ground floor. The roof has a leaking skylight yet to be fixed. According to the 2020 report, a study is needed to determine how much moisture is trapped within the main cover of the roof, including the stage tower roof and lower covered areas.
“It was also reported by site staff that there are active leaks within the main lobby area during heavy rainfall events,” the 2020 report stated.
After seeing the extent of the repairs needed, the audit recommended $9.5 million to upgrade mechanical and electrical systems in 2021, and a further $8.6 million in 2022 for other repairs.
The Pointer inquired about the lack of investment recommended by staff in 2022. Sheth offered a similar explanation as to the lack of funding for City Hall in that these repairs are typically handled over a number of years.
“The remaining work is planned and budgeted for 2023 and 2024 totalling $7.1 million which will be validated once design has been completed,” he said.
Sheth also confirmed that until the money is allocated, staff are “patching and maintaining” the roof for the time being.
The Garry W. Morden Fire training centre sits on Ninth Line road, in the northern reaches of Mississauga. The two-storey building is a training hub for Mississauga firefighters and the Department of National Defence. After being constructed in 2012, it is considered one of the newer buildings in Mississauga.
The 2020 report noted a number of high risk issues of concern, one of which was some “foul sewer” gas odours from the repair shop. The building inspectors notified the City immediately following the tour of the centre.
The roof was “in a disbonded condition in several locations,” (its covering was failing to stick), which the inspectors said should be followed up before the end of 2020. The building’s mechanical piping has “chronic leakage issues,” which according to the inspectors needs to be shut down in order to address. At the time the pair recommended $46,000 should be allocated right away to deal with the issues.
In total, the strong recommendations were supposed to cost the City $865,285 in 2021 and $708,174 the year after (totalling $1.5 million). According to the 2021 budget document, the centre received only $159,000 to address the leaking pipes.
In 2022 significant investments are being made to the centre, nearly two years after the initial critical assessment. Under lifecycle renewals, the fire hall will see $694,000 towards repairs.
Along with the funds from 2021, the City has only invested $853,000, about half of what the audit recommended.
Significant problems can arise if money is not invested properly into City facilities. Previous reporting by The Pointer found a number of fire stations, community centres and arenas containing asbestos.
A 2019 asbestos assessment of the Paul Coffey Arena and Malton public works depot showed numerous times the City being reminded of the carcinogen. Through freedom of information requests, The Pointer confirmed the city was first aware of asbestos in the buildings in 2009, with other reports complete in 2011 and 2019.
The consultants on the 2019 study said in their report the City has a duty to “perform a re-assessment of asbestos materials on an annual basis.”
This rule is codified under Ontario Regulation 278/05, part of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (1990). It applies to “every building in which material that may be asbestos-containing material has been used, and the owner of the building” and demands that the owner “prepare and keep on the premises a record containing the information”, as well as updating the information “at least once in each 12-month period”.
The arena is being allocated $220,000 for lifecycle renewal and the depot will get $202,000 for a new roof in 2022. It’s unclear from the budget documents whether any of this funding will be used for asbestos removal.
According to Sheth some asbestos has been removed from both the arena and depot centre because of construction activity. When the carcinogen is disturbed or could be impacted it is specifically removed.
“The remaining asbestos materials will be abated in the future through additional redevelopment projects or if and when they are disturbed through changes to the spaces,” he said in an email to The Pointer.
In a separate investigation, The Pointer discovered a number of fire stations with the same issue. In total, nine of the 14 fire stations inspected by auditors had asbestos somewhere in the building. The examples range from asbestos cement (known as transite) to chrysotile asbestos under the flooring or in drywall finishes around some of the facilities.
The Huron Park Community Centre is getting a facelift for $1.2 million this year. According to the 2020 assessment report obtained by The Pointer, the aging structure needs a boiler renewal, restoration of a brick wall, window replacement, roof repairs, proper drainage and new flooring in public change rooms.
The Huron Park Community Centre is one of few buildings where the City is following what auditors recommended.
The City is following the audit recommendations for the renewal of the facility.
The FPM department is in charge of the smallest portfolio of infrastructure compared to the bridges/roadways and stormwater, totalling all together $13.6 billion. To maintain existing assets in good condition, the City is planning on spending approximately $206.6 million each year until 2031.
In 2022 the City will be spending approximately $30.5 million on stormwater assets, $78.3 million on roads and $91.7 million on remaining infrastructure such as community centres, libraries, and fire stations. Despite the millions of dollars towards infrastructure, Mississauga is still falling short approximately $40 to $45 million annually over the next decade.
According to Sheth, buildings left longer are still deemed in a state of good repair.
“Staff prioritize projects based on a priority ranking system: mandatory (legislative), critical, state of good repair and improvement categories,” he said. “It should be noted that buildings continue to be well maintained and are kept in a state of good repair to ensure our various amenities (rinks, pools, libraries, etc.) can be enjoyed by the public for many years to come.”
The City continues to juggle between repairs, updating older buildings and slowly adding to the City’s infrastructure. If a ball drops, it’s clear the City’s most publicly accessed buildings are the first to be left longer than the other infrastructure it owns.
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