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posted September 25, 2017

From our archives: from the 2004 Dufferin Rink diary, an analysis of "State of Good Repair audits" by consultants

May 6 2004

The "state of good repair" consultants' audits, about this rink and a few others in the neighborhood, done three years ago, arrived in the mail today. The technical services manager, Bob Crump, must have sent them off right away. He went to some trouble to explain his spreadsheets. He says the first consultant was doing a “visual audit” or a “snapshot” so that may mean somebody went around and looked at what was rusting and said, “that needs fixing.” Plus they looked at the life expectancy of machinery and building materials according to their dates of purchase, and estimated when they’d need to be replaced.

”The total dollar value of the items identified by the consultants for Dufferin Grove is $171,700. This figure has been increased to $220,000 for account for inflation, contingency and consultant's costs. The next round of audits later this year would be more ‘in depth.’”

The kicker is that the manager says none of either this “visual audit” or the “in-depth” audit can be done by staff. The electricians, the plumbers, the machinists and the carpenters who have been working around Parks for years or even decades, and who are often being called to fix things, are not part of this loop.

The City trades have occasionally shared how they feel about this state of affairs. They hate it. It means that year after year, there are lists of what needs to be done, prepared by visiting consultants. And year after year, there’s little money to do it.

The manager’s letter ended with a reminder:

Please bear with us and understand that we too are committed to the responsible care of public resources, including financial resources.

If only we had the same understanding of how one cares for public resources.

May 11 2004

The rink audits that the tech services manager sent have some problems with dates. The consultant is one year off for the year Dufferin was rebuilt, 34 years off for Trinity, and 19 years off for Campbell. It’s the communication problem that people keep talking about, with consultants – there’s nobody from the City assigned to do fact-checking.

From Jutta to technical services manager Bob Crump:

Your spreadsheet calls for repair/replacement expenses in 2003 of $85,000, including an item called "area refrigeration systems" for $61,000. According the inspection report, that means replacing the water pump motor, the gas and liquid pipes, the overflow tank and expansion tank, the condenser pump, and the back flow preventer, and relocating the ammonia diffuser. (If I understood it right). Does that mean those things plus all the smaller bits were done last year?

The manager e-mailed back:

No, it doesn't mean those things were attended to last year. It just means that they were items which the consultant recommended should preferably be attended to at that time. However, the total dollar value of all items flagged by the consultants at all facilities across the City for 2003 could not possibly be afforded with available capital funds. So, all of these projects have been prioritized and scheduled to be attended to as soon as capital funds can be made available. Until then, we have to try and keep them operable with our maintenance budget and staff.

The manager went through each of the items on the consultant’s replacement list, and explained that it had not been necessary to fix them yet. But there was the all-night overtime job just near the end of the rinks season. We know that was done. I emailed back: Was it on the consultant’s to-do list?

Bob Crump:

No. Shaft seal on compressor was the problem diagnosed by our in-house mechanics, which was confirmed as the problem by CIMCO mechanic who provided second opinion. Was not an item flagged by consultant.

Me: What about the ammonia leak that finally shut down the rink last season? Was that problem foreseen by the consultant?

Bob Crump: No.

May 13 2004

I sent the manager my conclusion:

Okay, so it turns out that:

1. None of the things the inspectors slotted as work to be done at our rink (with specified years) actually need to be done at those times.

2. None of the things that actually went wrong at our rink were identified/predicted by the 2001 inspection.

What we learn from this inspection experiment is that general, large-scale inspections are a waste of money and time and should be stopped.

May 13 2004

From manager of technical services Bob Crump:

I don't agree that the large scale general inspections were a waste of time and money….The more detailed "due diligence" inspections of City rinks planned for this year will review the original recommendations in the 2001 visual audit and assess the urgency for them to be addressed. They may also identify other items which may have been missed or not completely investigated in the visual inspections. Revisions to the long range capital plan (both in dollar value and timeframes) may be made based on their assessments.

So if the rain dance didn’t work right the first time, dance harder.

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