The Town of The Blue Mountains (TBM) will now have some financial help in upgrading one of its most-loved heritage buildings, thanks to a successful grant application.
The Craigleith Heritage Depot was recently named as one of six community and recreation infrastructure projects in Ontario to get a piece of $1.2 million in funding.
According to Ruth Prince, director of finance and IT for TBM, the town will be receiving a total of $424,000 for the depot.
“Funding for the project through the Community, Culture, and Recreation Infrastructure stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program will be split 40 per cent and 33 per cent between the federal and provincial governments,” said Prince.
“The town will cover the remaining 26.67 per cent,” she confirmed.
According to TBM, the Craigleith Heritage Depot is 139 years old and is a designated heritage site.
The facility originated as a rail station from 1880 to 1960 and was then used as the Depot Fine Dining from 1967 to 2001. In 2008, a major community fundraising drive saw many aspects of the building restored.
In 2016, the Blue Mountains Public Library (BMPL) acquired the depot and added a book deposit station within the museum as a pilot study. Soon after, hours of operation grew from seasonal, one day per week to being open six days a week, year-round.
The depot building itself is also considered to be a significant piece of the BMPL museum’s collection, and is also known as a vital community hub for the east end of the town.
The new funding lot is expected to be allocated to cover renovations and improvements to the depot that were previously planned for, which includes: updating the roof, siding, installing accessible doors and improving airflow and air quality.
“The funding will be used to provide more extensive retrofits than previously anticipated, including improved accessibility and building comfort,” Prince continued. “Renovations will ensure a safe and healthy place of work and maintain a key historical and cultural centre for the town for the public to enjoy.”
Air quality concerns have been an issue for the facility in recent years. In the fall of 2019, museum staff reported having issues with poor air quality. Air quality testing was conducted to reveal that the heritage building had high levels of mould and radon.
Remediation of the radon was completed by a certified contractor in February 2020.
“The largest concern within the air quality, and health and safety of staff and patrons was the radon, which is far below the acceptable levels. Clearance testing was provided through the public health unit with results returned at 15 Becquerels per cubic meter (Bq/m3), which is well below the Environmental Protection Agency action level of 200 Bq/m3,” state Ryan Gibbons, director of community services for TBM in a related staff report.
Air quality levels within the depot are now being monitored constantly with levels being reviewed monthly by maintenance staff.
The remediation process cost the town a total of $9,000, which was drawn from the town's Asset Replacement Reserve Fund.
Through the remediation process, TBM staff learned that the building’s current HVAC system was also due to be replaced within 10 years.
Prince confirmed that a new HVAC system will likely be included in the renovations funded through the recent funding announcement.
“The Craigleith Heritage Depot stores high-value historical artifacts and as such, a purpose-designed HVAC system will be included in the renovation. In addition, building mechanicals will be evaluated to ensure proper airflow, interior climate, and air quality,” Prince said.
She added that any renovations undertaken at the facility will be conducted with the building's historic attributes in mind.
“Throughout the renovation, key architectural elements will be maintained to ensure the history and prestige of the building is maintained,” she said.
Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca