Council’s 'money pit' at 100 Stanley Street could deepen with demolition
LONDON, ONT. -- It could cost more to demolish a small city-owned house than the $1.1 million estimate to relocate it across the street.
Last week, CTV News revealed the cost estimate to move the heritage-designated house at 100 Stanley St. has doubled, but the Civic Works Committee has been told relocation may still be the cheapest option.
“This is a waste of taxpayer dollars, there’s no other way to slice it,” vented Councillor Paul Van Meerbergen to his committee colleagues.
A plan to widen Wharncliffe Road north of Springbank Drive required city hall to acquire the property.
A high-profile fight to stay in her home at 100 Stanley St. ended last year when Nan Finlayson sold it to the city for $500,000.
In a report to CWC, city engineers admit that the estimated cost to move the house about 100 metres to a vacant lot has increased from $500,000 to between $900,000 and $1.1 million.
“For it now to double,” said a frustrated Mayor Ed Holder. “Potentially more than double, gets into the crazy stage.”
The city’s total investment could reach $1.6 million.
“This is potentially a money pit, a potentially huge money pit,” added Councillor Van Meerbergen.
The city is required to relocate the house as a condition of the approved Environmental Assessment (EA) for the road widening project.
Delaying the process could be just as costly.
City engineers warned the committee that seeking to amend the EA to permit demolition of the house could take up to a year.
Over that year, inflation on the overall $38.9 million budget to widen Wharncliffe Road would add over a million dollars to the price tag.
“To say we’re going to do less, delay it, and it’s going to cost more, that’s not a good outcome,” said Councillor Jesse Helmer.
“I really do have a worry about creating a material delay and missing the construction season,” added Councillor Stephen Turner.
Other committee members, however, argued the permits required to move the house will take a year, so seeking an EA amendment at the same time may not delay the start of construction in 2022.
“We’ve has some pretty clear evidence that this is a very perilous path,” argued Councillor Turner.
A motion by mayor Ed Holder lost three to two.
With other options exhausted, the committee recommended moving the house and covering the cost increase within the project’s contingency budget.
“Eventually we have to get onto it and build the project,” explained Helmer. “I can understand people being concerned about the cost escalation, yes these projects come with risks, that’s why we put contingencies in them.”
City council will debate the recommendation at its March 23 meeting.