Unfortunately it is necessary that the Bienfait Town Council respond to a letter to the editor submitted to the Estevan Mercury by Bienfait resident and former mayor, Garry Hammett. His letter, published on February 22, 2012, contained several inaccuracies.
The figures used in the referred correspondence were incomplete in terms of accounting for the grant received from the Spectra Community Foundation (SFC) to repair the former 55 & Over Club building. A review of the associated invoices on file indicates that expenditures were as follows:
$4,306.40 - Redriver Lumber for doors and windows
$989.28 - Redriver Lumber for a drywall and insulation package
$8,820 - Windrock Custom Builders for shingling and to repair roof sag
These invoices total $14,115.68, resulting in spending $615.68 more on repairs than the $13,500 grant received from SCF. It is important to note that copies of the referred invoices were submitted with the grant follow-up as required by SCF and others that provide grants to organizations. Given that Mr. Hammett is a member of the board for the SCF and surely has access to such files, it is odd that he evidently did not review the follow-up submission prior to submitting his letter to the editor.
In any event, the building products purchased for and/or installed on the facility have been determined inappropriate. The new exterior doors open inward and therefore cannot be used on the subject building, as there is a provision in the Canadian Building Code requiring all exterior doors on public buildings to open outwards.
In terms of addressing the historical significance of the building, the shingles installed in November 2009 are made of asphalt and according to the Saskatchewan Heritage Foundation they are generally not considered appropriate for pre-1940 historic structures in Saskatchewan. Also, structural changes would be required to accommodate the installation of the new/larger windows, effectively changing another historical feature of the building. It is truly unfortunate, that this building was not maintained as an historical structure over the past years.
With respect to ownership of the subject building; correspondence dated November 27, 2007, signed by the president and four remaining members of the Bienfait 55 & Over Club, was received by the mayor and town council. The letter stated "this is to advise that the Bienfait Fifty-Five and Over Senior's Club, due to the conditions of the hall and shortage of members, the club is unable to function or carry on. We are giving the property to the Town of Bienfait." Subsequently, Motion #07/12/01-15 was passed by the Bienfait town council on December 17, 2007, to proceed with acquiring the title. The town's legal counsel had the title transferred to the Town of Bienfait on September 27, 2011.
Regarding the resurrection of the Bienfait 55 & Over Club, correspondence dated April 5, 2010, was received from Ron Joss informing Bienfait town council that "a new senior group has been formed to operate the 55 and Over Club in Bienfait," and "the group will continue fixing up the building, as well as paint the outside if it is to remain in the senior centre name." Mr. Joss' letter was accepted as information since there was no request for a response.
The structural integrity of the building was of concern and as such, council hired the services of a Canadian registered professional building official to conduct an inspection. Based on the inspection report, Council agreed with the recommendation to demolish the building rather than repair it, resulting in publication of the demolition tender. The Class 3 building official provided a complete report outlining the poor structural integrity of the subject building and related issues. A copy of this report has been included.
Since being elected to serve the residents of the town of Bienfait, the current council has shown dedication to improving the town. The issue of affordable housing in the community is being addressed. Infrastructure has been replaced and repaired, such as sewer lines, sidewalks, roads, catch basins and the older lift station. The water treatment plant has a newly constructed building over its reservoir and the treatment system has been improved and repaired. Best of all, these accomplishments and initiatives have not negatively affected the Town's financial position. In fact, the Town of Bienfait's CUSave Savings account has continued to increase over the last two and a half years. The council is truly committed to improving the quality of the life of its residents through dedicated service, co-operation and inclusiveness.
Supporting documentation for all the information contained in this letter is available for public inspection at the Bienfait Town Office.
James Bonokoski, Ken Bonokoski, Rob Forster, David Johnson, Dwight Thompson and Shirley Wheeler
Bienfait Town Council