Sooner or later, the Frontenac County office needs to be renovated or replaced. The office is located in a grand old house, but there is wasted space, a lack of accessibility, and other issues that will be expensive or impractical to deal with through a renovation. Also, as the result of an accident of history, the office is not even located in Frontenac County. Glenburnie, where the Fairmount Home Long Term Care Facility and the Frontenac County office is located, used to be part of the county but became part of the City of Kingston with municipal amalgamation 20 years ago, in 1998.
County Council has done some work towards finding a long term solution for its staff, forming a committee a couple of years ago, but with Council having little appetite for a $2 million project (which is almost certainly a low ball figure) no further action has been taken.
When word came to the county that the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority (CRCA) is also looking to build a new headquarters, it seemed like a good idea to look into co-location between the two institutions in order to save money and to make the project more palatable to Frontenac County ratepayers.
So, on March 9th, the Frontenac County Administrative Building Design Task Force, which had not convened since December of 2016, met with representatives from the CRCA senior staff and board. They met at the current the CRCA office in the Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area, which is located just north of Hwy. 401, also in the City of Kingston.
A report concerning that meeting is coming to the monthly meeting of Frontenac County Council this week. Council will be asked if it wants to explore the co-location option with CRCA any further.
The proposal for the council’s consideration includes the following:
“That Council remains open to continuing discussion with the CRCA with respect to the construction of a potential joint administrative facility located either on the grounds of the current county facility at 2069 Battersea Road, or the CRCA property at Little Cataraqui Creek Conservation Area at 1641 Perth Road (or in the vicinity)”
As pointed out above, 2069 Battersea Road and 1641 Perth Road are not Frontenac County addresses, and “in the vicinity” may be far enough north to be in Frontenac County or it may not.
The draft minutes from the March 9 meeting conclude by saying “it was suspected by many around the table that the location of a new building is not a major point.”
Location may not be important to those around the table, but for the ratepayers of Frontenac County, the very idea that the county is considering building a new office in another municipality should be alarming.
It is abundantly clear that such a signature construction project aimed at creating a home for Frontenac County Council and staff, must be located in the county.
After all no one would suggest that, in order to make co-location with Frontenac County work, CRCA needs to build their office in another watershed.
Not only should the building be located in Frontenac County but within the vicinity of a hamlet in order to stimulate the local business community. The hamlet of Inverary is not that far to the north of the CRCA office, and the county should propose a location in or near Inverary to the CRCA. If the CRCA can handle that, great.
The potential benefit to Inverary businesses from 60-70 well paid office workers traveling there every day would be significant.
If the office is located at Little Cataraqui Creek, two kilometres north of the 401 instead of in Inverary, the nearby fast food joints and box stores will get all the business.
What good would that do for Frontenac County ratepayers?