St. Mary's council considering back-up generator purchase

St. Mary’s COW recommends back-up generator purchase

SHERBROOKE – The committee of the whole for the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s has recommended the purchase of a new back-up generator for the RecPlex, which will serve as an important step in the goal to establish the facility as an emergency shelter.

The motion presented at the Feb. 21 session would award the contract to KV Electrical Ltd. for $89,500, plus HST.

In providing background on the process that led to this most recent decision, municipal CAO Doug Patterson explained that St. Mary’s – in partnership with the Town of Mulgrave and Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) – applied for Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) funding to create emergency shelter facilities.

Carrying out measures – such as the back-up generator purchase under consideration – would provide the RecPlex with the capability to house people on a 24-hour basis during a local emergency.

Patterson noted that their request for funding received ACOA approval on Jan. 18. With that support, municipal staff began the process of collecting tenders and quotes on project components presented to St. Mary’s council during a committee of the whole meeting on Nov. 8, 2023.

The bid from KV Electrical Ltd. – the lowest one submitted to council – includes the capacity to power the whole facility, other than the ice plant. Its features include 60 KW capacity, full back-up for both electric panels. The quote includes the generator, installation and pad for propane fuel tank. The specifications also include a five-year warranty.

Before giving his approval, Warden Greg Wier asked if there was leeway, when it came to increasing the capability of the generator.

“It would be a shame to spend that kind of money, and then not have capacity [to expand],” he offered.

By the end of the session, staff had verified that the back-up generator would have the ability to double its capacity.

After the proposed purchase of the back-up generator, $18,498 would remain from the $110,502 awarded by ACOA. (The joint municipal application asked for $129,000.)

As for what would happen with the remaining funds, as part of fulfilling the requirements for an emergency shelter, cots and bedding would be borrowed from MODG. The original plan called for a dedicated supply for St. Mary’s that would be stored in Guysborough.

Rather than adding showers, as outlined in its ACOA funding application, demand hot water only has been selected as a less costly option.

When it comes to kitchen upgrades, a staff report to council indicates that they can be “effectively done” without replacing the stove; supplemental equipment with additional countertop appliances will be used to increase menu capability.

“Our existing equipment is fine,” Patterson noted of the kitchen’s ability to handle emergency situations.

During the Feb. 21 committee of the whole meeting, the district CAO told council that staff will return for approval of any purchases related to on-demand water and counter-top kitchen appliances.

“We are very grateful for the opportunity to make upgrades to the RecPlex that could provide the services of a local emergency shelter during a protracted event,” Wier told The Journal in an email interview after the meeting, adding that such a local service could have a “critical and positive effect, since it would mean there is a local area solution for people.”

He offered that there are many benefits for people and families “to stay in their own community.”

Wier added, “The improvements to the RecPlex that support its use as an emergency shelter are backed by good planning, which we’ve already done to make the facility vital and sustainable in many ways.”

He noted that main public entrances to the facility will be made fully accessible this year, thanks to $92,278 from the federal government’s Enabling Accessibility Fund; while, last year, the refurbishment of the building’s exterior walls were completed with some of those monies.

Corey LeBlanc, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal