Sudbury

Sudbury city hall's courtyard left in disarray, repairs and cleanup underway

The courtyard at Sudbury city hall is getting some attention after falling into disrepair during the pandemic.

Space outside Tom Davies Square was heavily used over the pandemic by vulnerable people

Barricades around tree features in an outdoor courtyard
As of June 23, barricades were set up in the courtyard at Tom Davies Squares in Greater Sudbury. The city is repairing damage incurred over the pandemic. (Martha Dillman/ CBC)

Cleanup is underway at the courtyard outside city hall in Greater Sudbury.

The space outside Tom Davies Square was heavily used over the pandemic by vulnerable community members who were accessing the temporary warming and cooling centre next door at 199 Larch St.

The city set up the temporary centre during the pandemic after local social service agencies were forced to close or reduce their hours.

That temporary centre closed down May 31.

Kevin Fowke is general manager of corporate services for the City of Greater Sudbury. (Markus Schwabe CBC)

"We did have people coming into contact with some of the infrastructure around the building and causing damage," said Kevin Fowke, general manager of corporate services for the City of Greater Sudbury.

"You know, I'm certainly not casting any aspersions. These were some folks who obviously have severe addiction issues, they're underhoused," he added. 

"They did create some damage throughout the building, so that damage now we're planning to restore so that we can restore both those meeting rooms inside, and some washrooms and the Tom Davies Square courtyard to its former use."

Fowke said city staff fixed the more pressing items immediately and larger issues will be repaired by contractors.

"Everything from broken windows, doors, graffiti, cleanup of different biohazards, damage from fire we had at one point in the pandemic period, some of our posts and fixtures were damaged, wiring from an electrical point of view that needed to get repaired."

About 600 unionized city staffers work at Tom Davies Square. They're represented by Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 4705.

Local president Bryan Keith said that over the pandemic, they received regular health and safety complaints about the conditions of the city hall courtyard.

"We were getting many complaints in regards to the consuming and discarding of drugs and needles on the property, as well as human feces and such."

Keith said most of the complaints subsided at the end of May when the temporary warming and cooling centre closed down.

"We do obviously rely on and respect our joint health and safety committee that have been working really hard trying to put in policies and procedures along with the city to maintain a safe environment for our members."

A barricade blocks a damaged walkway in a courtyard.
A barricade blocked this walkway in Tom Davies Square courtyard where pavers are missing. (Martha Dillman/CBC)

Extensive repairs to barricades and fencing around some of the features in the courtyard aren't being done immediately.

"[The city is going] to get some pricing into place by the end of this month and hopefully have everything restored by the end of October 2022," Fowke said.

"We're no different than other organizations struggling with supply chain issues, but also struggling with resourcing issues in terms of getting people to do this work."

Other courtyard maintenance like grass cutting, gardening and weeding is underway by city crews.

Fowke said the cost for maintenance and repairs is covered in the current budget.

Fencing around a feature in a courtyard
This fencing was installed around the dock feature in Tom Davies Square's courtyard. The city will hire contractors to make the necessary repairs. (Martha Dillman/CBC)

Maintain public courtyard so all can enjoy

Keith said Tom Davies Square's courtyard is a space for everybody, not just members of CUPE Local 4705.

"If we can't maintain that community gathering space, that's a lot of tax dollars that have kind of gone out the window," he said.

"I think the public needs to get involved and realize this is a public space that needs to be cleaned up ... the general cleanup of the garbage and maintaining it as something that everybody can enjoy and feel safe doing so."

The first public event at Tom Davies Square courtyard was the Kids Bike Exchange, which was held Saturday.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Angela Gemmill

Journalist

Angela Gemmill is a CBC journalist who has covered news in Sudbury, Ont., for 16 years. Connect with her on Twitter @AngelaGemmill. Send story ideas to angela.gemmill@cbc.ca

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