The William Street Armory will close in the next seven to ten years and will then go on sale. The 225 soldiers from the Sherbrooke Hussars and the 52nd Field Ambulance will relocate their activities to the Colonel-Gaetan-Cote Armory on Belvedere Street.
“The problem with the William ride is that the foundations are porous. They can not be repaired. According to our analysis, this would amount to deconstructing the building and rebuilding it. The costs would be staggering. In the past year we have done stabilization and cleaning work. Employees can now work safely. But the mold will eventually come back because the cause of the problems has not been eliminated, “says Lieutenant-Colonel (LCol) Francois Lagace, commander of the Quebec Armed Forces Real Property Operations Unit (FAC).
Visit the William Armory in pictures.
Visit the Belvedere Armory in pictures.
After a long evaluation, the solution chosen was to condemn the William riding school to devote a larger budget to the renovations and the expansion of the Belvedere manege, which will thus be able to accommodate the four reserve units of Sherbrooke (see other text). For now, the Sherbrooke Fusiliers and the 35th Signal Regiment (formerly 714 Communications Squadron) are the only occupants with just over 300 members.
“This is the least expensive solution for the CAF,” explains LCol Lagace.
It will take seven to ten years to complete the work that will enable about 550 soldiers to work together on a daily basis. Meanwhile, the members of the Sherbrooke Hussars and the 52nd Field Ambulance “will continue to occupy the William merry-go-round and we will continue to maintain it,” adds Francois Lagace.
Investment in one carousel
It should be noted that La Tribune disclosed in February 2015 that the two Sherbrooke military rides were in an advanced state of deterioration and required emergency work to ensure the health and safety of the workers. In all, nine options were on the table, including the possibility of renovating one of the two buildings and disposing of the second, selling the two buildings to build a new one, or renovating the two buildings.
After several years of analysis, it was finally the centralization of the four reserve units at the Belvédère merry-go-round.
“The Belvedere is the one that has the most visibility as it is located downtown. And it is especially the one that can be renovated the most easily, “he adds.
The hypothesis of closing the two rides and building a new building is now ruled out. “This is not an option we look at,” says the senior officer.
The Sherbrooke military have always argued that their two rides were very busy, mostly that of Rue Belvedere with its some 300 reservists, and that it was unthinkable to house the four reserve units under one roof. “The CAF redefined scales for the use of spaces. You can accommodate more people in the same building. The military rides are not buildings that are used 100% at all times … “says LCol Lagace.
Indeed, only a small permanent team works daily for military rides. The other members are reservists who come to trainings and training mainly on evenings and weekends.
“The plans of the Belvedere maneuvers (see other text) will be made according to needs: we will take into consideration their needs in offices, classrooms, storage, space for their vehicles …”
The future of the four reserve units is assured, says Lieutenant-Colonel Francois Lagace. “Yes, we want to keep the four units in Sherbrooke. We invest in the merry-go-round to keep all units, both small and large. For example, there is a medical unit in Sherbrooke. It is not because it is smaller than others that it is less important: it is needed, “he argues.
What will happen to the 178-year-old building?
The military will stop occupying their William Street ride in the next seven to ten years. What is the future of this imposing 178-year-old building? Certainly, the building is no longer part of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) plans.
“We’ll get rid of it. We want to maximize our buildings, “says Lieutenant-Colonel (LCol) Francois Lagace, Commanding Officer of the Real Property Operations Unit for Quebec of the FAC.
“We are going to set in motion a project to divest the federal government. We will see if there are other people interested in the federal government, then the provincial government. Then we will put it on sale as is, the building in its current condition and its land, “he adds.
On the property assessment roll of the City of Sherbrooke, the grounds are valued at $ 386,000 and the building at $ 825,000 for just over $ 1 million.
It is the poor quality of the foundations of the armory that cause its most important problems.
For example, for a number of years, many of the premises had been condemned because of molds that adversely affected the air quality and thus jeopardized the health and safety of the soldiers who spent their days there. The 52nd Field Ambulance had to relocate several of its activities.
In recent years, several stabilization works have been carried out. Drainage work was done throughout the armory in order to assist the evacuation of water and thus minimize the infiltration of water inside the building, the main cause of mold formation.
Deep cleaning was carried out in the basement. New floors and a suspended ceiling have been installed in some offices and storage rooms. Painting work has also been carried out.
Military personnel met on site were delighted with the work done, which added luminosity and a better atmosphere to their workplaces.
Despite this, a certain odor of moisture remains in some areas of the basement.
The large garage, which also serves as a training area, is located at the back of the building. It was reinforced with a metal structure since its structure was weakening.