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Council weighs $1.4M facelift for Fort William Gardens

A $1.4 million contract to replace much of the Fort William Gardens' exterior envelope, along with other insulation upgrades, would help slash energy costs and carbon emissions while extending the aging arena's lifespan.
Fort Williams Gardens

THUNDER BAY – The city is poised to move forward with a $1.4 million makeover of the Fort William Gardens’ exterior and ceilings, bringing significant energy and financial savings.

The project is a key plank in the city’s larger work to extend the aging arena’s lifespan over a decade into the future.

On Monday, city council will review a recommendation to award a $1.4 million contract for upgrades to the structure's external "envelope,” which staff have said “continually leaks water," to DRD Construction Services.

The work is set to unfold this year, assuming council approves the contract, which is already budgeted for, thanks in part to federal funding.

Major items in the contract include replacing the arena’s lower roof, enhancing insulation, new cladding, and repairing and repainting the building's ceilings.

A high-reflective coating added to the ceilings will make it easier to keep air temperature constant, reducing the amount of time the ice plant is operating.

The insulation improvements will include replacing some doors and windows that date to the Fort William Gardens’ opening in 1951.

The building’s envelope has allowed problematic moisture and air infiltration in recent years, says city construction services supervisor Kelvin Jankowski.

"We’ve had some ongoing building envelope issues that we’re going to be addressing now," he said. "We’re also going to be increasing insulation value, which will reduce energy use in the building itself."

The city's recent renewal work on the Gardens is projected to bring in the neighbourhood of $130,000 a year in energy savings, Jankowski added.

The improvements could cut the building’s greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 40 per cent, the city has previously projected.

The project is part of a larger city initiative to rejuvenate the city’s largest, and oldet, arena to remain in use through 2036.

Council adopted a long-term investment plan for the Gardens in 2021, setting out $3 million in upgrades over four years.

In 2021, repairs were completed to the last of the 20 concrete haunches that are the main supports for the building

The city replaced the venue’s ice deck flooring and added a video scoreboard in advance of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts the following year, with significant provincial and federal support.

Some further work is planned over the next three years, including upgrades to ice plant heat recovery and accessibility improvements in the concession and lobby areas.

DRD Construction Services submitted the low bid for the envelope contract, with a tendered cost of $1.25 million, coming in roughly $300,000 below the only other bidder, Hastings Painting Corporation.

Including a $125,000 contingency, the contract is worth just over $1.4 million, but is expected to cost the city closer to $1.2 million after an HST rebate.

A report noted DRD has completed similar work for the city in the past, including at the Gardens.

The city has budgeted enough to proceed with the work, along with federal funding to support the project, details of which have not yet been announced.

The city retained KGS Group to provide design development and contract administration services for the project.

Administration is directed to report back to council in the case of any significant cost increases.

Ian Kaufman

About the Author: Ian Kaufman

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