Friday, July 18, 2008

Timmins DSSAB confusion

The Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board (DSSAB) has voted to move out of the 101 Mall and it’s Third Avenue offices into a brand new structure to be built at 500 Algonquin Boulevard East, the site of the old Royal Canadian Legion Hall.
The board decided one month ago, on June 19, to explore the idea of amalgamating all its Timmins based services into one building.
There is some confusion however on what the board has agreed to do, based on comments from board members.
“The board made a decision to enter into a 25-year agreement and I just felt we didn’t have enough information at this time to go into an agreement,” said councillor Denis Saudino, who sits as a board member. “I was the only one who voted against it,” he said.
Saudino says he doesn’t like the idea of the board signing a long-term deal until it explores more options.
DSSAB chair councillor Gary Scripnick views the issue differently.
Scripnick says no deal has been signed.
“I haven’t signed any document and I am the chair.”
“We are looking in that direction, but it could fall through,” Scripnick said Thursday.
Timmins Mayor Tom Laughren, also a member of the board, indicated that plans were firmer.
“Well the agreement is kind of a two-phase agreement. One is that there will be a new building built, that will house not only the ‘social services’ portion of the DSSAB, which is at the 101 Mall, it will also house ‘housing and ambulance’,” said the mayor.
“The old legion building will be torn down as part of this proposal, the footprint of the new building will be roughly the same location and the same size as the existing building,” Laughren continued.
“Completion date is scheduled for sometime next summer. I am going to say August 1st. I don’t think it was ever finalized,” he said.
“I think it’s premature for the mayor to say that,” Scripnick told The Timmins Times.
“The DSSAB is looking for a new location where it could put all of it’s people together,” said Scripnick.
“And we are seriously looking at different proposals,” he said.
“The lease we have in the 101 Mall is about to end next year, so were looking for a new building. There is nothing official. We are looking at some proposals. But that’s about where it sits,” Scripnick told The Times.
No one was able to say what the cost of the new building would be. Saudino, however, says he is convinced that construction and purchase of a new building would be just as cost effective as leasing.
“The savings from amalgamating into one building would basically pay for you know a new building.”
Saudino also stated he was not totally in favour of the old Legion building and would be more comfortable having it located in the downtown area.
But Laughren says he believes the costs of the agreement are reasonable.
“I think when you look at what we are presently paying on various leasehold agreements, this will be very close in line with that,” said Laughren.
The CDSSAB has a $52 million budget. The member municipalities pay $22.1 million.
According to the board minutes, the City of Timmins pays 53 per cent or $12.6 million out of a that municipal budget of $22.1 million. The nearest other municipality in terms on financial contribution is the Town of Kapuskasing, which is responsible for 9.84 per cent of the budget at $2.1 million.
Members of the DSSAB Board include Chair councillor Gary Scripnick, mayor Tom Laughren, Timmins councillors Pat Bamford, Mike Doody, Jack Slattery and Denis Saudino. The other six members of the group are from the other member municipalities.

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