Foundation work on the Machine Shop (Town of Ladysmith photo)

Machine Shop improvements progressing despite unexpected challenges

The Town released a update on Machine Shop improvements in their January 7 council agenda package

Work on the Machine Shop is progressing at a steady pace.

The Town received federal Gas Tax funding for $1.8 million in March 2018 to make the code, seismic, and structural upgrades to the Comox Logging and Railway Shops building, also known as the Machine Shop.

RELATED: Ladysmith receives $1.8M for upgrades to historic Machine Shop

In the early fall, the old roof and underlying material were completely removed. The deteriorating covering had been partially damaged in the December 2018 windstorm and temporarily repaired by the Town.

Next came the necessary structural upgrades to the roof support beams before new plywood, a five-inch insulation and torch-on membrane were added as well as new flashing.

A roof hatch was also included in the design to allow for easier access from interior second floor mechanical room.

New eaves and gutters were then put up on the east side of the building – protecting visitors to the Machine Shop from rainfall runoff.

The Wooden floor on main level was removed as the wood was rotten and floor had collapsed. The center stairwell was also partially removed during this process.

The foundation work has turned up a few unexpected challenges. The pilings and supports that the Machine Shop sits on are rotten in many areas and have significant deterioration. This discovery brought engineering and geotechnical draws to a standstill, according to the Town’s December 2019 Machine Shop Restoration Project Update.

READ ALSO: Update on Machine Shop renovations presented to council

Other challenges were around the installation of proper footings. Workers were required to go down to the bedrock, which in some areas is over two-metres deep. This created challenges on how the foundations should be built.

A large amount of soil has been removed from the building and is being stored at the south end of the Machine Shop. Given the industrial history of the site, a soil management plan is in place to reduce the risk of possible contaminants leaving the site and entering the ocean.

Challenges posed by the foundation work have slowed the project, and added costs. The remaining budget for the project is $950,000, and an estimated $905,000 worth of impending work has been identified.

The Town continues to review this scope of the project and prioritized the necessary structural and code upgrades to stay within budget and reopen the building to the public.

These improvements also include rebuilding the staircase to the Waterfront Gallery with a wider landing area, completing necessary foundation work, and re-installing the floor as concrete where the wooden floor was removed.

During the renovations, the Town is keeping Machine Shop tenants informed of the renovation timeline and project achievements through regular updates.

The Arts Council of Ladysmith and District continues to operate the Waterfront Gallery from the temporary quarters of the École Davis Road School as part of an agreement negotiated between the Town and the Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools.

The Ladysmith Maritime Society museum was closed for the summer during renovations but LMS offices in the Machine Shop have stayed open, with the option to move to the marina offices if needed.

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