How was the site chosen for the new Operations Centre?

    A long-list of eight potential sites was developed in the initial stages of the Site Selection Process.  The long-list of sites was subjected to an initial screening evaluation which considered the following three major criteria:

    • Is the site already serviced or located in close proximity to the urban boundary and existing municipal services?
    • Is the site close to the minimum space requirement of 20 acres?
    • Is the site available for use for the Operations Centre, or is it already reserved for another use that provides an alternate benefit to the community?

    If the site didn’t meet the above three criteria, it was ruled out of the long list.  A short list of four sites which passed the initial evaluation were thereby identified for further consideration.  The four short-listed sites were subjected to a detailed evaluation in order to identify a recommended site.  The detailed evaluation considered the following criteria:

    • Land Compatibility: The site should be in an industrial park or similar area with compatible surrounding operations that won't be affected by the potential noise or heavy vehicle traffic of operations.
    • Size: The property should be a minimum of 20 acres in total size.
    • Grading: The site should be relatively flat to avoid major cut and fill costs and to minimize grading, and it should be rectangular to better facilitate the flow of vehicles and employees.
    • Access/ Egress: The site should allow for at least two exits / entrances without interference from traffic flows or congestion.
    • Proximity to Urban Centre: The site should be located within the urban centre close to the geographical centre of the most densely populated part of the Township.
    • Environmentally Sensitive Areas/ Source Water Protection: Consideration should be given to the proximity of the site to environmentally sensitive areas and wellhead protection areas, including any potential risk management measures that may be required for source water protection.
    • Services and Utilities: The site should be close to or have ready access to services (power, utilities, water, sanitary, storm).
    • Site Preparation/ Potential Environmental Issues: Preference would be to locate the site in a greenfield area to avoid additional costs associated with the demolition of existing buildings or potential environmental remediation costs.
    • Co-Location: Identify opportunities to co-locate with other uses, such as Centre Wellington Fire and Rescue Services.

    In consideration of the above detailed evaluation criteria, the 965 Gartshore St. site performed the best on the detailed analysis and was determined to be the recommended site.  The key features of the 965 Gartshore St. that make it favorable for the new Township Operations Centre are as follows:

    • It has flat topography, which will reduce earthworks costs and make it relatively easy to develop;
    • It is located in close proximity to the existing industrial area on Gartshore Street and Gregson Court, making the site compatible from a land-use perspective;
    • The historical agricultural use of the property suggests a low likelihood of encountering legacy environmental issues such as soil and/or groundwater contamination;
    • It exceeds the minimum land size requirement of 20 acres, and can be severed such that only the required land area is purchased;
    • It is located in close proximity to the urban population centre in Fergus, and is centrally located within the Township of Centre Wellington;
    • Although some of the site is within the GRCA regulated area and potential environmentally sensitive features, these areas are generally located in the western portion of the site, away from the frontage along Gartshore where development would occur; 
    • It is located close to a municipal well (F7), the Gartshore Water Tower, and within wellhead protection areas.  Any potential drinking water threats associated with site activities (ex. fuel storage, road salt storage and application) could be mitigated and managed through risk management measures incorporated into the site design and operational procedures; and,
    • The site can be easily and economically serviced through connections to existing Township watermain and sanitary sewer infrastructure on Gartshore Street.
    • An additional advantage of this site, not considered in the criteria, is that two additional Township owned properties will now be able to be activated as employment land. Namely 101 Gregson Court (1.38 acres) and 970 Gartshore Street (3.2acres), both directly adjacent to 965 Gartshore Street. Currently the two properties can’t be used due to the active farm on 965 Gartshore Street.

    Why Does the Township Need a New Multi-Departmental Operations Centre?

    • Current facilities are not sufficient to provide essential services to our growing population.
    • Current facilities are not compliant with guidelines and regulations (i.e accessibility) and do not provide a good working environment to attract and retain excellent staff.
    • Current facilities are not large enough to accommodative staff requirements as identified by our Space Needs Study.
    • The proposed facility will be designed to provide a more customer friendly "one window" approach to public inquiries.
    • The proposed facility would contribute to cross-departmental efficiency by providing staff working/meeting space for several Township departments under one roof.
    • The proposed facility will free up space at our current facilities adding years to their lifespan.

    Why can’t the Township keep using their existing facilities or just do some additions instead of building a new Operations Centre?

    • The useful service life for works garages is in the range of 50 to 60 years. The condition of these facilities deteriorates over time.  The Fergus East garage is almost 50 years old and the Waterworks shop is over 60 years.  
    • Buildings weren't designed to the same standards in the past.  Standards have improved for items like accessibility, gender equality, health and safety, environmental sustainability, energy efficiency and the incorporation of communications and computer technology systems.
    • The size of buildings that were built 50 to 60 years ago weren’t sized to accommodate the increased numbers of staff, vehicles and equipment that are required to keep delivering a consistent level of services to the growing community.  As the population has grown, the facilities have become increasingly overcrowded with more staff, equipment and larger vehicles.   Areas have been retrofitted and pressed into alternative uses they were never designed for.  Most of the existing facilities are over capacity.
    • Most of the sites are too small or have other site development constraints, so those facilities aren’t suitable to accommodate additions to the buildings and expansions to the works yard areas.  
    • Expansions and overhauls to existing facilities are quite costly and disruptive to operations which may result in delays or interruption of services to the community.   
    • Undertaking the overhaul of several of the existing works garages isn’t a viable approach given the advanced age of the facilities, the site constraints, overcrowding, deficiencies, noncompliance with current standards, disruption to operations, interruptions in delivery of services and the high cost.  The older works garages are simply at the end of their useful service life.

    Can staff work from home so that a new Operations Centre won’t be needed?

    • The departments of Parks and Recreation, Forestry, Public Works and Water Services operate critical Municipal infrastructure and deliver services that require on-site presence and equipment operation and maintenance.  The staff in these departments can’t work from home to provide these essential services to the community.
    • During COVID-19 Township staff were required to work-from-home to the extent possible, but many of the work-from-home practices could not be effectively incorporated by the operations and supervisory staff in these departments.
    • The works staff need to be on site in person to be able to effectively use Township equipment, garage areas and facility space for the delivery of services, coordination of operators, technicians and field staff and for the storage and maintenance of vehicles and equipment.  Staff will require access to facilities regardless of work from home policies.
    • A new Operations Centre would provide the advantage that it can be purposely designed from the outset to include flexible office spaces that can be used as shared drop in work areas or can be easily reconfigured to help facilitate changes in staffing levels.

    Have environmental issues been considered for a new Operations Centre?

    • Through the Operations Centre Space Needs Assessment, Evaluation of Alternatives, and Concept Plan Study, each option was evaluated in the context of environmental and sustainability standards. Specifically, the study provided higher scoring for options that were expected to result in lower greenhouse gas emissions, waste, and overall impact on the natural environment.
    • The study concluded that building a new operations centre would be most beneficial from an environmental perspective, as it would provide an opportunity to incorporate environmentally friendly features into a new facility.
    • Some examples of environmentally friendly measures that could be considered for the design of the new operations centre are:
      • Energy savings by using alternative energy sources such as solar power or cogeneration;
      • Reduced carbon emissions by using electric vehicle charging stations for operations fleet vehicles;
      • Ground source heating and cooling or other high efficiency HVAC systems for improved air quality, efficiency and energy savings;
      • Low impact development approaches for management of storm water runoff with use of on-site natural features to protect water quality;
      • Include a new salt storage facility with indoor loading to mitigate and manage potential source water impacts;
      • Water conservation measures such as low flow toilets, faucets and fixtures;
      • Rooftop rainwater harvesting and on-site grey water storage for reuse as vehicle wash water;
      • Oil grit interceptors and other water quality treatment systems as applicable for wash water and vehicle melt water;
      • A naturalized storm water management pond;
      • Use of construction and building materials with a high recycled content; and,
      • With the direction of Council, the facility can be designed to reach any desired level of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) which is a globally recognized and widely used green building rating system. The four LEED levels range from certification, to silver, gold, or platinum. Achieving LEED typically increases the initial cost of the facility, but energy efficiencies can provide long term cost savings over the life of the facility.

    The suitability of the potential environmental measures are typically reviewed during the preliminary and detailed design phases of the project. It is important to account for site specific environmental characteristics in the detailed environmental design of the facility once the project gets to that stage.  Site features typically considered are whether or not there is a source water protection area, water course, marsh area, environmental protection zone, or any existing contamination, or if the site provides natural habitat for any species of concern, as well as the particular topography and geotechnical characteristics of the property.

    How will the community benefit from a new Operations Centre?

    • Building capacity to address the increasing growth of the community and the rise in need for services helps to provide for a continued consistent delivery of services and to avoid service interruptions;
    • Attracting and retaining good staff, improving operational efficiencies by decreasing travel time, and optimizing the delivery of services to the community (such as snow plowing, salting and sanding, sidewalk clearing, field and ditch maintenance);
    • Providing a convenient single point of contact or "one window" for public inquiries;
    • Better accessibility for staff and visitors with special mobility needs (compliant with AODA accessibility requirements), and more gender inclusive facilities;
    • Providing meeting rooms with modern technology that are accessible and large enough to serve as a good venue for public information centres close to the urban centre; 
    • The visitor parking area would include accessible parking spaces located close to the front entrance, and potential "green" features such as electric vehicle charging stations and bicycle storage areas;
    • The new green houses and outdoor planting areas would be located near to the visitor parking area at the front of the facility so that horticultural society members and the public would have convenient easy access to pick up plants;
    • The on site tree nursery will help to grow our urban tree canopy and the saplings can then be transplanted elsewhere in the Township for the community to enjoy;
    • The optimized site layout would improve visitor safety by separating the public access from the works vehicle circulation route so that visitors do not have to cross paths with large operations vehicles;
    • A new bulk water filling station would be available to the public and to contractors at the new facility; and,
    • Relocating the water department to the new Operations Centre and out of the Queen Street shop could provide options for extending the recreational trail along the south side of the Grand River across the Waterworks property to connect the Fergus downtown area with the existing Confederation Park trail.

    How big will the new Operations Centre be, how much will it cost and will it raise my taxes?

    • The Operations Centre facility is anticipated to be in the range of 54,500 ft2 to  56,000 ft2 (5,060 m2 to 5,200 m2) for phases 1 and 2.  The areas for each phase will be fine tuned during the detailed design stage.  Approximately 20 acres is required for the size of the site to accommodate the outdoor areas and the building areas including room for future growth.  The outdoor areas will include materials storage, parking, circulation routes, works yard areas, and storm water management pond.  The building areas include offices, amenities (i.e. meeting rooms, lunch room, washrooms, etc…), archives, garage bays, vehicle and equipment maintenance space, heated and unheated storage, building utilities / service rooms, wash bay, indoor salt storage, and greenhouses.
    • A financial strategy was developed to outline how Option 6 could be implemented within a 10+ year timeframe. Phase 1 implementation is anticipated to cost approximately $16.45 million over the next 3 years. This includes estimates for soft costs and land purchase. Phase 2, estimated to occur in 10 to 20 years, is anticipated to cost approximately $10.627 million.
    • It is estimated that phase 1 costs will be 93% growth related, and phase 2 costs will be 62% growth related (the growth related share of phase 2 would be confirmed and refined before that phase commences). The growth related share of this project would be funded from development charges. Growth related debt would be required, with future principal and interest payments to be funded from development charges.
    • The non-growth related cost of this facility (i.e. 7% for phase 1 and 38% for phase 2) is expected to be funded from the sale of surplus land and buildings owned by the Township. With this strategy, the cost of constructing this facility would not impact taxation or water/wastewater rates. Once built, the operations centre will form a new cost centre in the Township’s operating budget, with operational costs to be funded from taxation and water/wastewater rates annually.

    How will the new Operations Centre help save costs?

    • Incorporating energy efficient heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) building systems and materials such as better insulation and sealed windows and doors will help to conserve energy and reduce heating and cooling costs;
    • Using integrated smart technologies and automated smart building systems will help to improve communications and data management to help save costs;
    • Optimizing the operational layout of work areas so that staff who work on related tasks will be located adjacent to each other improves efficiency and minimizes travel time;
    • Optimizing the site layout, vehicle circulation pathways and locations of materials and equipment storage and operations (i.e. salt storage, fueling area, wash bay, maintenance bays, workshops, water fill station and greenhouses) creates efficiencies and helps save costs; 
    • Separate large works vehicles with limited visibility from crossing paths with visitors, office staff and small vehicles by placing the parking area and building entrance apart from the works yard and works vehicle circulation route, minimizing possible collisions, injuries, equipment damage and associated costs;
    • Creating additional space so that work areas are not overcrowded helps to reduce unsafe storage practices and trip hazards and to mitigate health and safety risks thereby reducing the associated cost of down time and injuries;
    • Eliminating overcrowding will reduce the time taken to shuffle vehicles, equipment and materials around in order to get at the item that's needed, this improves efficiency and helps reduce operational costs;
    • Implementing modern site security and effective facility security helps to control access and minimize potential for costs due to theft or vandalism;
    • Creating space for indoor storage of vehicles greatly reduces their exposure to the elements which prematurely wears the equipment. Indoor storage helps to reduce maintenance costs, extend vehicle service life and correspondingly reduces vehicle replacement costs;
    • Indoor storage helps to reduce labour costs by minimizing preparation time for vehicle dispatch since operators won't need to spend time warming up the works vehicles and clearing snow from them;
    • Providing a proper vehicle wash bay to keep the vehicles clean from road salt helps to minimize rust and deterioration thereby extending the service life of vehicles and reducing replacement costs;
    • A proper wash bay with safe access to raised work platforms and appropriate railing guards gives operators a much safer way to reach all areas of large works vehicles.  This addresses health and safety risks and the costs associated with potential injuries and downtime;
    • Including heavy vehicle maintenance bays with a centralized on-site mechanic to serve multiple departments helps to reduce the costs of maintenance and repairs and to save operational costs by decreasing travel time between operating and maintenance yards and minimizing vehicle down time;
    • Minimizing travel time for delivery of services by having a centrally located facility close to the urban population centre helps to reduce operational costs;
    • Improving health and safety and gender equality by including things such as elevators and appropriate washrooms, change rooms and showers will help to attract and retain staff;
    • Creating multi-departmental areas helps to eliminate the costly duplication of spaces, for example having one lunch room at a central facility rather than separate lunch rooms at several facilities;
    • Building in flexibility in the use of spaces so that one room can be shared by various departments for multiple uses helps reduce facility costs, for example a lunch room can have a shared use as a training room; and,
    • Including versatile shared use multi-departmental areas helps minimize required space and reduce facility costs. For example having a room with several computer touch down stations for operators rather than having separately assigned desks, and including shared workbenches in the garage area so operators from various departments can share tools and work spaces.
    • Using a phased construction approach for building a new facility allows for flexibility and better control of the timing of when portions of the design and construction are done and when various costs are applied to the project. For example if housing and employment trends change and growth in the community is significantly lower than projected, then the timing of future phases of the project can be adjusted to maintain existing levels of service for the community.