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City buying replacement heating and cooling units for rec centre

Coun. Duncan Wong also found to have violated code of conduct as colleagues accepted investigator’s report during Nov 29 meeting.
empty trcc fitness centre
A rooftop heating and cooling unit above the Thompson Regional Community Centre fitness area, seen here before being filled with gym equipment, and another one above the Mary Fenske Boardroom, are being replaced at a cost of about $27,000.

Thompson city council voted unanimously in favour of buying two new heating and cooling units for the Thompson Regional Community Centre (TRCC) at their Nov. 29 meeting.

The total cost for the replacements for two of the building’s six rooftop units is $26,676.22 plus taxes, including installation and the rental of the 75-ton crane required to get them into place.

Coun. Duncan Wong questioned whether such a large crane was really necessary but Coun. Earl Colbourne countered that it was because of where the two units are – over the Mary Fenske Boardroom and over the weight room and recreation department offices.

“I think that’s the reason that we need the extra lift is because of where the units are located,” said Colbourne.

Questions were also raised about why the two units need replacing already.

“Twelve years for an HVAC system to fail seems like a ridiculously short time,” said Coun. Jeff Fountain.

City development and technical services director Lyle Safronetz said in a memo to mayor and council that a periodic maintenance program would be out into place to monitor the performance of the new units and identify and correct any issues before they become major problems.

Wong found to have violated code of conduct

Earlier in the meeting, which was chaired partly by deputy mayor Brian Lundmark and partly by Coun. Kathy Valentino, council narrowly approved a resolution to accept the findings of an investigator hired to look into an accusation of a code of conduct violation by Wong. The complaint stemmed from the May 10 meeting when Wong and Coun. Les Ellsworth revealed medical information about Lundmark, who stepped down from the chair on Monday to take part in debate on the resolution, though he and Wong couldn’t vote on it.

Wong said Ellsworth was the first one to bring up the medical information and asked why he wasn’t the subject of a complaint as well, suggesting that perhaps it was because Ellsowrth isn’t a visible minority, though Wong also said he didn’t think Lundmark was the type of person to discriminate against minorities.

“What I find troubling is I’ve been singled out,” Wong said. “You didn’t go after other guy.”

Ellsworth said he hd a private conversation with Lundmark after the incident  and apologized privately.

Lundmark said he sent both fellow councillors an email following the incident asking to discuss it with them by a certain time and date or else he would submit a formal complaint.

“The date came and went,” Lundmark told Wong. “I submitted [the complaint] and then you contacted me the following day.”

Lundmark also said he didn’t find Wong’s explanation of his reasons for revealing the information satisfying.

“I didn’t think you found any fault in what you disclosed,” he said.

Although the investigator found that Wong did violate the code of conduct, no sanction against him was recommended.

Coun. Braden McMurdo said he hoped councillors would be more respectful of each other in the future to avoid formal complaints and the associated costs of investigating them. Fountain said he thinks council should change its procedural bylaw so decisions about complaints are completely taken out of councillors’ hands.

This is the second code of conduct complaint to have arisen from the May 10 meeting. Fountain previously filed a complaint against Colbourne for disclosing information discussed in camera at the same meeting. A sanction was recommended by the investigator of that complaint but the issue died because a majority of council plus one did not vote in favour of approving the sanction.

Veracity of snow clearing claims questioned

During the community comment and feedback portion of the meeting, former councillor Ron Matechuk brought up Nov. 19 posts on the city’s social media about grading that was scheduled to have taken place that day on Weir Road and Knife Crescent, where he operates businesses. The roads still hadn’t been graded 11 days later, he said.

“Can we just get the communications people to add an LOL after this so we know where you people are coming from?” said Matechuk

Special meeting requested

Prior to the approval of the minutes from previous meetings, Fountain submitted a request for a special meeting on water utility issues that he said was signed by himself as well as Coun. Andre Proulx, McMurdo and Wong. Fountain had said he would make such a request during the Nov. 15 meeting, after a group representing landlords presented to council about its wish to meet for discussions about how to resolve water billing problems.