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Out with the old town depot

PAB plans to re-use materials from affordable housing project to fill in downtown site

Re-using materials to fill in the soon-to-be demolished old town depot has advantages, and the piles of excess fill are only temporary. – © René J. Roy / Wreckhouse Press Inc.

By René J. Roy


PORT AUX BASQUES – With Spring weather beginning to reveal itself throughout the province comes the annual start of construction work. As roadwork patches began in the area last week, another project has also resumed.

The affordable housing project on the site of the original Bruce Arena, near the top of Army Hill has been little more than a neglected and vacant concrete pad since Sept. 24, 1995, when the first Bruce arena was consumed by fire. Now given new life as the future site of affordable housing units, with the environmental assessments and necessary requirements completed, the project is now pushing hard into the construction phase says Town Manager Leon MacIsaac.

“This has been in the works since 2018. It’s been a while, but there’s been a lots of delays experienced over time due to COVID, and there’s a number of different requirements that have to go back and forth to the CMHC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation).”

He says the weather has finally broken enough to get started up at the site.

“Now that winter is over and Spring is here, we’re are getting the foundation pads prepped for construction.”

While work may have started, there is still some more unavoidable waiting to do. Two of the plants that produce materials needed for the worksite won’t open until a little bit later.

“Well, Mr Gord Sheaves’ plant, he doesn’t start producing concrete until early May, but we are beginning site prep now in preparation for the concrete plant. And the truss plant as well in Stephenville, White’s Construction, their truss plant doesn’t open up until the middle of May. So we can’t start until those two items, which are very important, are available to us.”

Work is projected to be completed on the housing within eight to ten months, although construction timeline is never a certainty. Despite making all attempts to source material locally, delays are almost surely inevitable.

“It may take longer, but that’s really going to be dependent on when they can get materials. Material delays are significant, just due to COVID and supply in general. Windows and doors, siding, roofing materials, I would expect are going to be delayed.”

While town staff are not currently on site, MacIsaac says that they will be sooner rather than later. “Our staff aren’t up there yet. We’ll be putting in the water and sewer components for the site.

“When it comes to the sewer and water components, there are plans to try to make use of that which was left behind from the old arena, which has the potential to save money.

“There’s existing underground water mains, and sanitary systems up there we’ll utilize. They have to be re-inspected as well because they’re fairly old. Any anything that’s possibly deteriorated might have to be replaced as well.”

MacIsaac also says that the huge pile of excess fill that is currently being stored near Andy’s Rainbow Park is a merely a temporary issue.

“We just put out a tender for the removal of the town’s old municipal garage, so that material will be used for spreading over the site to help level it and get it prepped. Once the building comes down and the foundation removed as well, that material will go into those holes.”

While the piles of fill may be considered unsightly, there is a certain advantage to re-purposing the fill, as MacIsaac says its readily available material.

“Right now our two closest landfill sites are environmentally closed. We can’t use it there. But we can utilize it on the site of the former town municipal site.”

Having received four bids on the tender for the removal of the town’s old municipal garage site, MacIsaac is among those eager to be rid of the now unsightly lot.

“We want that out of sight and out of mind by the time Come Home Year starts. The only delay right now is getting Newfoundland Power to disconnect the power service. Once that’s done we fully expect it to be removed.”

He expects the removal of the site may also be slightly time consuming.

“It will take three to four weeks to remove all of the metal components. It’ll be a slow process because they will want to salvage as much metal and material as they can. We would like to have it all removed by the end of June.”

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