Patch it or replace it?

That was the big question Tuesday night as Port Moody council mulled spending as much as $759,000 over three years to replace the dilapidated roofs of the city’s works yard.

Given the city’s “terrible financial situation,” it makes sense to keep patching the roof and delay more substantial work, according to Coun. Steve Milani.

“This just sends the wrong message,” he argued.

Coun. Diana Dilworth disagreed, suggesting that leaving the buildings as they are would be unconscionable.

“It would be ridiculous to say we’re not going to do anything,” Dilworth replied. “I’m very uncomfortable making decisions to reduce a budget on the backs of our employees’ health and safety.”

The roof assembles in the 1980-era works yard are mostly in poor condition, according to a recent assessment. Due to leaks over hallways and offices the city has been spending about $15,000 a year on the roughly 10 to 15 works order that trickle in each year.

Asked about conditions in the building, the city’s general manager of engineering Jeff Moi explained that there were challenges to efficiency.

“We wouldn’t be sitting in water or anything but there will be disruptions by needing to do repairs,” he said.

It’s important to take care of city assets, Coun. Amy Lubik said, discussing the nuisance of regularly patching small holes.

“It reminds me a lot of the public health system. It’s really hard to have systems change when you’re putting out so many little fires.”

Coun. Zoe Royer concurred, citing the importance of staff’s mental health.

Council ultimately voted 4-1 to spend $501,000 over two years to replace two sections of roof. Coun. Steve Milani voted against the motion. Mayor Rob Vagramov and Coun. Meghan Lahti did not attend the meeting.

A third section of the roof, which was an estimated replacement cost of $258,000 would be monitored over two years and possibly included in a future capital plan.

Discussing the big picture, Dilworth added that there’s been talk about moving the city’s works yard for 15 years.

“We promised them a new works yard and they’re still waiting,” she said.