By Cole Parkinson
The Vauxhall Community Hall will no longer be the hot box that it once was.
Air conditioning is coming to the facility sooner than later after discussions between town council and the Vauxhall Ag Society have continued moving in the right direction.
During council’s meeting on July 16, councillors discussed the terms of getting it set up as the ag society offered a $20,000 donation to get things rolling.
“‘Our condition for funding to be distributed is to have the system installed and operational on August 12 or soon’,” read Mayor Margaret Plumtree from the ag society’s letter. “I imagine they mean this year. That is a really short date to order equipment and get the electrical upgraded.”
With the ag society’s hope to have the AC in place before August 12, council was worried that that deadline would not be able to be met.
“I support the concept, I just have some difficulty with the letter. I don’t think we can do it by August 12. If their funding is contingent on it being done by then, I guess we lose the funding. I just don’t see it being done,” said Coun. Ray Coad, who also mentioned he had talked to some members of the ag society at a recent event. “They seemed to think they could find someone that could do it in that amount of time. I think it is going to take that long just to get the equipment on-site and then four or five days to get installed. The electrician also has to do some upgrading.”
As far as the deadline imposed by the ag society, council understood why they were wanting to get the unit in as quick as possible.
“I think the thing for them is to have it operational for this summer. If it’s not and it’s in by October, then what is the point in doing it this year?” said Coun. Kim Cawley.
With upgrades to electrical also needed in the community hall, $37,100 was the total estimate given by for the project.
With around $51,000 set aside in the town’s budget for Community Hall upgrades, council was comfortable with using those funds to add AC to the facility.
The biggest concern raised by council was hitting the date mentioned in the letter from the ag society.
“Based on their letter, if we are a day late they could say ‘we don’t owe you $20,000’. I will assume that is not their intent, they want air conditioning and rightly so. They are generously willing to donate $20,000 and they want it to get going soon, fair enough. I think the appropriate response is yes we want to work with you but we can’t guarantee it will be going August 12,” said Deputy Mayor Richard Phillips. “We could flip it around and say we will start immediately if you will confirm that if we are later than August 12, as long as we start immediately, that you will still pay the $20,000. We can’t risk being held on the hook, on the unlikely scenario that they want to take a hard deadline.”
Coad wasn’t entirely sure if that would be agreeable with the society based on the most recent discussion with ag society members.
“That is not the conversation that I had with the author of the letter. The conversation I had with the author was they are rigid. They expect this in place and he said the contractor was ready to go and he had a discussion with the contractor,” he said.
“Bottom line, it is less than a month. If I wanted air conditioning in my home right now and I called a company or 10 companies it may be January or February,” replied Plumtree.
With urgency needed for the project to move forward, council was fine with the recommended contractor and because no businesses in Vauxhall offered that particular service, Burns stated they were not required to get multiple quotes.
“To satisfy the ag society’s need for a quick timeless, I think we would be okay with their only being one quote. Especially as it is someone they recommended and they are footing a good portion of the bill. The main thing is making sure they are committed past that deadline if we don’t meet it,” added Plumtree.
A motion was made to accept the ag society’s offer subject to them relaxing the August 12 date, town guarantees that the work will be ordered within three business days and was carried unanimously.
Council also made a motion to take out required funds from the Community Hall upgrade reserves to put towards the air conditioning unit and was also carried unanimously.
In an inquiry by the Advance several days later, Burns confirmed the ag society had relaxed that date and the upgrades were moving forward.
“It’s all been ordered as the ag society agreed to relax their deadline date and some equipment has already been delivered,” he said in an email to the Advance.