Credit Union renovates to fix water damage, save energy, and update its image

·3 min read

Everything old is new again at the Dundalk District Credit Union, as the exterior is renovated into a historical look that matches the rest of downtown’s heritage buildings.

“We really want to raise our image and public awareness,” said Janice Mason, Credit Union CEO. The board is aware that many new residents are moving to town, some of whom may not be familiar with credit unions.

An attractive, renewed building is part of making the institution a competitive choice, Ms Mason said. Work on the building has been needed for some time because of damage from moisture.

A big priority for the board was to keep the building open and functioning during the construction.

Board member Glen Irwin walked members through the changes at the recent annual meeting.

The renovation, based on a design by Allan Avis Architects, re-creates a historical look with parapets and cornice trim. Eventually there will be a new sign in a fitting lettering style, and lighting from above, he said.

And, very importantly, new flashing will direct the moisture away from the brick.

The previous windows were original from the 1960s. Every window is being replaced. New more energy-efficient windows will re-create the look of the traditional “main street” store-front.

The entrance will now be flush with the rest of the building. The recessed entrance created a cold spot as well as moisture issues.

The front step will be eliminated to allow easier access, and there will be an automatic door opener. The entrance will be re-worked with one wider door for wheelchair access and a glass panel, instead of the current double doors.

The Credit Union is working on its marketing plan as well, and is adding services. Ms Mason said by February they hope to start offering deposits of cheques by phone.

Originally, the board was considering the expense of adding that service might not be worthwhile since fewer cheques were being used. But COVID-19 has made it more urgent to improve services now for those who aren’t coming into the branch.

And as well, when they looked at Credit Union clients, many of them are small businesses who still use cheques, the CEO said.

The moisture also affected the upstairs space. It was originally where the manager lived, and more recently had been rented out.

The upper floor and basement level will be gutted, closed in and made healthy and stable without a lot of further finishing, she said.

There are no immediate plans to rent the upstairs space, although it’s might be used as a commercial space in the future if there is demand. The basement meeting room doesn’t meet accessibility standards.

The construction work by JT Commercial Contractors, Owen Sound is expected to be completed, inside and out, by early spring, she said. It was hard to find an available contractor, Ms Mason commented.

The whole project will cost about $375,000, she said. “We’re investing a lot of money in the future here.”

M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald