River Mill Park’s washrooms will be going out for tender next spring.
On Monday, Huntsville council signed off on getting formal installation quotes up to $330,000 for two locations—either next to the band shell or at the north end of the parking lot. Staff was also directed to arrange soil contamination testing for the band shell location, which might disqualify it as a location.
At the start of September, council deferred a decision on where to install the washrooms, as some locations sit on top of District of Muskoka water and sewer infrastructure.
James Steele, Muskoka’s Public Works Commissioner, told council installing on top of that infrastructure runs the risk of lengthy water outages or water advisories in the event of a break. He noted moving the watermains alone would cost about $1,000 per meter for an estimated cost of $50,000, adding sewer infrastructure is much more complicated and would be even costlier.
“My preference is to sell the bathrooms to another municipality, recoup what we can, and work with the donor to find a more costly option,” said Councillor Cory Clarke. “I can confidently say tonight that I’ve gone as far as I’m willing to go with this project, and I can’t support it any further.”
Clarke noted that similar models in other municipalities have had reliability issues as well as being expensive to operate and maintain, and asked for the vote to be recorded.
“I still can’t see myself approving a budget of up to $630,000 for two toilets, as well meaning as it all is, with the amount of pressures we’re having on our budget and everything else,” agreed Councillor Scott Morrison. “If it is going out for tender—which I think it has to, because I’ve been approached by at least three people that would like to bid—I think it has to go out with a maximum number on it.”
In the end, the motion passed with Clarke and Morrison as the only holdouts. The toilet, which has already been purchased by the town for $300,000, will sit in storage until a contractor is chosen in the spring.
Of the $330,000 earmarked to install the facility, $235,000 will come from the Parkland Reserve Fund, and $95,000 from development charges. Storage will cost the town $450 per month and $1,967 for delivery, taken from the park’s operating budget.