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City council looks at future of city-owned buildings

Five city buildings are reaching their end of life according to a new report.

City council received a building report in the October 29 meeting which showed the estimated years the city-owned buildings have left. The report comes from a committee made to look at the structural integrity and usefulness of the buildings in November 2018.

Five buildings that were highlighted the Centennial Civic Centre, the Community Services Building, Firehall #1, the Heritage Building and the Cultural and Science Centre. Four of the five were noted as reaching the end of life in less than a year.

“None of them are falling down,” Mayor Gerald Aalbers explains. “The end of life means what is their useful life and that’s the challenge we have to deal with. In the long term, the buildings aren’t going to last forever.”

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The Civic Centre, built-in 1965, would require extensive rehabilitation and has an anticipated useable life of two to four years. The fire hall was built in the 1940s and has been renovated multiple times. It can no longer be renovated to meet the needs of a full-time fire department.

Councillor Jonathan Torresan says more factors will need to be discussed before any decision is made on four of the buildings.

“There are a few things that have to happen between now and making any kind of decision about demolition and replacement. One of those things is design and getting a better understanding of what the cost of a new fire hall actually is and the other is getting our fire master plan which will tell us the ideal location for a new Firehall would be.”

The Heritage Building is empty as it needs to be brought up to fire safety code and national building code. The city is looking into selling the building as they have limited use for it. According to the report, if put on the market the building could bring in $450,000 in revenue. 

“The floor space isn’t ideal for any specific city activity to occur in there so the city would be a landlord and we don’t necessarily want to be in that business,” Torresan says. 

He says whoever buys the building will have to maintain the outside features of the building because of its heritage status.

The Cultural and Science Centre is considered “suboptimal at best” by the surveyors and the HVAC system has a high risk of failure. The Community Services Building is the only building with a clear future as it is planned for demolition in the second half of 2020 which has an anticipated cost of $350,000. The building has water infiltration problems and no longer meets fire code standards.

City administration is currently in the starting stages of a Recreation Feasibility Study which will look at the viability of a new recreation facility with a pool or arena to replace the Centennial Civic Centre. The study is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2020.

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Mayor Aalbers says the first step for the future of these buildings will be getting feedback from the residents of the city.

“The community is going to ask questions. What are in these reports? What did they look at? Is it the basement, the roof, the walls? Those kinds of things and we have a lot of people in the community that care about this community.”

City administration will be holding a “Your Voice” night to discuss the future of the buildings. They are planning to have the open house on December 3 but the date is not concrete.

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