As many in the community know, the air conditioning at the St. Lawrence Community Recreation Centre has not been functioning this summer. While staff has been exploring repairs, the temperatures within the building have been dangerous to both residents and employees alike, reaching above 40C. Under those conditions, it is with great regret that Howie Dayton, Director of Community Recreation at the City, informed me today that the SLCRC will close until end of the day Monday to find an approach to allow the centre to reopen.
Although staff have tried their best to secure a replacement or temporary air conditioning solution for the facility, after much investigation it was determined that this will not be possible due to the current structural capacity load limitations of the facility roof. Staff are now actively working on long-term replacement options that will address the air conditioning, ongoing leaking issues and overall structural improvements to the roof.
Additional funds will be requested through the 2024 Capital Budget submission for the design and construction of a new roof and chiller replacement (air conditioner), but final decisions on funding will be determined through the overall budget approval process. I will push City staff and work with my City Council colleagues to bring the SLCRC back to normal operations as soon as possible.
In the meantime, staff are scoping the project timeline, necessary consulting services and preparing for the budget process to consider the possibility of reallocating State of Good Repair funding to accommodate this work. A critical Building Condition Assessment will also be completed in the short-term to accurately assess work that is required, the associated costing and impacts to timing. As staff works towards implementing this long-term solution, I will provide updates related to the project scope and timeline and will share more information once the design consulting firm is hired and scope, timelines and costing becomes more clear.
In the interim, staff will evaluate options over the weekend and Monday to allow the SLCRC to reopen. The heating systems in the building have not been impacted, so the centre will still be usable when temperatures drop. Users of the SLCRC will be directly notified by staff about impacts to any programming, including potential impacts to St. Lawrence Co-operative Day Care users.
Climate change affects everyone, but it is especially our most vulnerable residents, including the underhoused, children and seniors, that bear the brunt of the rising temperatures that are being experienced across the globe. The SLCRC was one of the few spaces in the neighbourhood dedicated as a cooling centre, and its loss, even if temporary, is unacceptable.
My office will work with City staff to find alternative cooling spaces that local residents can access while this work is accelerated and underway.
If you have any concerns or suggestions, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office.