Accountability

Posted by on August 1, 2012 at 11:32 pm.

Last week, the recreation, parks and culture department requested $38,000 to repair damage to the wall and foundation of Macaulay House.

Many repairs have been made at Macaulay Heritage Park recently, including $1,750,000 in repairs at the neighbouring Macaulay Church, $400,000 of which were contributed by the municipality. Those repairs are a followup to recommendations made by André Scheinman, a Kingston-based heritage preservation consultant who examined the County owned properties.

“In terms of repair, there had not been a lot of repair money spent on either the house or the church,” said Wendy Lane, the County’s manager of recreation and culture. “When you own your own home, you have to do certain things to keep it going.”

The new repairs to Macaulay house, however, are to fix a mistake.

In 2008, following steps suggested by Scheinman, Ron Dubyk, manager of properties, oversaw a project to eliminate a fungal problem that was causing dry rot in some of the walls at Macaulay House.

It was a two-step project; first clean up the mould, then treat the wall for waterproofing and drainage. That required the contracted company to dig out around the stone foundation. That’s where the trouble started.

“One of the rocks that was a part of the stone foundation fell off and rolled away,” said Dubyk. “Then the brick veneer started to sag.”

The company doing the waterproofing repaired the resulting damage. Those repairs were approved by an engineer. The total cost, to clean the mould, waterproof the foundation and fix the damage was just over $35,000. It was completed in 2009.

In 2010, staff and volunteers at Macaulay House noticed cracks forming on the inner and outer walls where the repair was made.

“It was discovered that the repair work undertaken following the collapse was not sufficient for the foundation to support the two storey wall above,” stated a report prepare by Lane.

It was then that Lane became involved in the repairs of Macaulay House.

Lane has been following the guidelines set out by Parks Canada called The Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada. The guide was not used for the initial repair, but will be used for any further repair.

“One of the things the guideline says is that you try to treat things in small steps. You do small things, and wait to see if it solves the problem, rather than doing huge things and potentially damaging the building,” said Lane. “That’s what we’ve done. It’s taken us a little longer, but we wanted to make sure that that was the problem and not create a further problem.”

Taking small steps, like monitoring the building and trying to find a smaller solution before digging around the foundation again. Lane has been searching for engineers and contractors who have experience working with the guide and with heritage buildings to ensure the new repairs are done correctly.

“We do the best that we can when we’re hiring people. The county has a purchasing policy and we follow the purchasing policy,” said Lane. “I’m trying as much as I can to use the engineers, I’m making sure they’re aware and they know how to work with historical buildings.”

Council approved the spending, but Councillor Janice Maynard and Councillor Alec Lunn expressed concern that the initial repair work was not adequate and was now costing the County an additional $38,000.

“There was an engineer or a project manager that signed off saying that the repairs were done after his section of wall fell down, they signed off on it,” said Councillor Maynard. “Somewhere along the line somebody should be held responsible. These are professional people, are they not?”

Leave a Reply