UPDATED — Nov. 25, 2:42 p.m.
In the past several years, the flour mill silos have received no maintenance work except for a fence, Ward 12 Coun. Joscelyne Landry-Altmann told city council.
An engineering report on the silos' condition said it was “demolition by neglect,” and eventually the city would need to either repair or tear the silos down as a matter of public safety.
The cost to tear down the silos was estimated in the range of $520,000 and $850,000. The cost to refurbish the silos was estimated at $1.7 million.
“I can promise you there are no grants (for tearing the silos down),” Landry-Altmann said, warning the cost of demolition would be taken out of the taxpayer's wallet. Council would have no choice but to ensure the demolition is put to the top of the priority list, taking money from other projects.
She encouraged city council to support an application by Les Amis du Musée du Moulin à fleur, a non-profit volunteer organization that supports the Flour Mill museum.
The silos, which were recognized by the city as a heritage site in 1973 and officially recognized under the Ontario Heritage Act in 1989, will turn 100 years old this year.
As they are a century old, the silos qualified for the Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage Legacy Fund, provided by the federal department of Canadian Heritage.
As the group looked over the requirements for the funding, they realized the silos met all criteria, Landry-Altmann said during her presentation, on behalf of the group.
The group applied for $500,000, the maximum amount available in the fund, and asked for council's endorsement.
Landry-Altmann said the silos represent the farming community's history, and once repaired, the silos could be painted with a mural to reflect that and maintained properly.
A report prepared by city staff recommended city council support the application, and noted there would be no financial obligation. However, it did note that should the application be approved, and a plan drawn up, the city could provide a matching contribution.
The Flour Mill area is one of the first neighbourhoods settled outside of the city core, and was primarily a Francophone farming community. The silos were built in 1910.