Design work set to begin in Sunny Cove rehabilitation


Fort Frances Town Council voted in its Monday meeting to award TBT Engineering a $67,342.35 contract for engineering and design services for the Kiwanis Sunny Cove Camp Rehabilitation.

The contract is the result of a Request for Proposal, to begin the process of rehabilitating Russell Hall at Sunny Cove. The log structure is in a state of disrepair, with several courses of logs showing signs of rot and a carpenter ant infestation. In spring of 2023, council approved a staff recommendation to proceed with a plan to rehabilitate the building, and pursue a grant from the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation.

The draft 2024 Capital Budget, which was approved on principal last week, has budgeted $715,000, carried forward from the 2023 budget, to continue work on the Sunny Cove rehabilitation. That figure includes a $500,000 NOHFC grant. The project has passed the first round, however, staff have not received word on the status of that application as it passed through the second round, according to Interim CAO Travis Rob, who noted that an additional Federal funding option is also being researched by Chief Building Official John Burrows.

Coun. Steve Maki expressed concern over proceeding with the engineering contract, before firm grant approval has been secured, and without a clear vision of what the campground will eventually become. Rob noted that the engineering and design work in the tender will give the Town a clearer picture of the project and its scope, including whether Russell Hall can be saved, or if a new building is needed. The end result will be a tender-ready building project, ready to go ahead once funding is in place.

Coun Wendy Brunetta saw the design tender as a consistent aspect of all major projects undertaken by the Town, and felt it was an important first step.

Council ultimately voted to award the tender, but it was not unanimous.

The campsite has been closed to public use since 2020. In March 2020, just days before Covid shutdowns began, council announced its intention to divest itself from the camp for financial reasons. The council and administration at the time had intended to honour that year’s bookings, while seeking out an organization willing to continue running the facility as a camp for kids. With the onset of Covid, that summer’s bookings were cancelled, but the town continued to seek out a new organization to take the helm. Although a group was found, the arrangement wasn’t able to be maintained., and the facility has sat unused and largely unmaintained since.

On May 23, 2023, after a majority approval from council, Administration developed a Request for Proposals for structural design services of Russell Hall, with a deadline of November 14. The proposal was to cover an evaluation of the Russell Hall structure and prepare detailed design work for its restoration. The winning bid would also include the preparation of tender drawings and specifications, which the Town could tender out at a later date.

Two proposals were received from structural engineering firms. Civilogistics Inc.submitted a bid for a total cost of $106,220.00, while TBT Engineering bid $67,342.35. The bids were reviewed by Rob and Burrows. Both bids were judged using an evaluation matrix that included proposal quality, past experience, key personnel, proposal cost, and the proposed project schedule. According to Burrows, both proposals showed good understanding of the project and well put together methodology; on the evaluation matrix these companies both scored similarly, with TBT Engineering having a slight advantage, he said.

Civilogistics Inc. noted in their bid that rehabilitation of the facility was not recommended at this time, and developed their proposal around demolition and reconstruction of the facility. In contrast, “TBT Engineering’s proposal showed thorough methodology of investigation including a detailed geotechnical investigation plan. The project schedules varied greatly between these two proposals with Civilogistics Inc. having an anticipated completion by mid- March 2024, and TBT Engineering anticipating completion by the end of July 2024,” noted the administrative report.