Font Size A A A

City Hall Redevelopment

CITY HALL CONSTRUCTION PROJECT

UPDATE 1 - APRIL 28, 2021

HISTORY:

The current City Hall building, located at 3570 Bridge Street in Armstrong, is over 100 years old. It was originally shared between the Township of Spallumcheen and the City of Armstrong and the Provincial Police. In 1976, the RCMP moved out of the building into their current building on Pleasant Valley Road, and the Township of Spallumcheen moved out of the building in 1985 to their current building located in Spallumcheen.

There are several reasons why the current City Hall building is being considered for replacement rather than remediation and renovation. The current building is over 100 years old and as an older building, there is escalating upkeep and failing infrastructure. On February 28, 2018, Outwest Building Inspection Consultants Ltd. conducted a ‘City Hall Condition Report’ that showed that there was an addition to the building in 1992 that has resulted in uneven floors in the staff area and the H-VAC system for heating and cooling does not service the building equally. The older plumbing consists of mixed materials including Poly B, galvanized, copper and PEX materials due to many renovations (see pictures of the piece of galvanized pipe removed during a water line break inside the building). Other building deficiencies include; the electrical room which is not fire-rated, the door does not self-close, the fire separation is not continuous and at one point a large hole connects the room with the storage room. The Fire suppression system consists of 2 galvanized sprinkler heads, but it can’t be confirmed if they are pressurized properly or at all. The electrical system is being utilized beyond its rated capacity, which results in tripped power supplies and an increased fire risk. The crawl space of the building does not have a soil gas depressurization system, vapor barrier or ground cover and consists of exposed soil. The building has two rooflines and are both flat roofs, and are ‘soft’ in places, and the downspout off of the lower roof corners are not properly draining, leading to an accumulation of ice, snow and water. The insulation of the roof and walls was not effectively sealed and has allowed moisture to infiltrate and considerable mildew has grown in the insulation.

           

(Pictures of the inside of a piece of galvanized steel pipe removed during one of the renovations at City Hall)

 

The cost of repairs alone is not economically feasible and does not even start to address the costs associated with expanding the size, or modernizing the building. This option was reviewed and the parking lot would need to be utilized for the expanded building. This and the costs of rebuilding were viewed as too expensive and the long-term occupancy of the building would remain compromised.

Additionally, the current City Hall is only 3920 sq Feet, including a 520 sq ft Council Chambers. There are currently 9 full-time and 1 part-time employees that work in the building, with no room to add another currently needed or future staff person(s). There is no current ‘conference’ or ‘meeting room’ and individual offices are too small to hold meetings with the public. The Pre-Covid 19 Council Chambers did not have the ability to hold more than 18 seated persons (standing room only allows up to 50), including 7 of Council, 5 of Management, any speakers to the meetings, or any public. The current Council Chambers does not have the ability to support more than 7 persons at a time due to COVID-19 restrictions. Additionally, Council Chambers doesn’t have the ability to support and cost-effective electronic meetings. The building records storage areas are unprotected in the basement, are not full height, and are not sufficient to store the quantity of records that the municipality must retain.  Office ceilings are failing with visible sagging occurring. In addition, all non-public areas are easily accessible or are open to the public creating security issues and liability.

With these barriers in mind, Council determined that the best course of action would be to investigate the costs of obtaining a New City Hall location and building, rather than attempting to retrofit/renovate the current building.

 

WHAT THE CITY HAS DONE UP TO NOW:

In the Spring of 2019, the City celebrated its 100 year anniversary in the current City Hall building. The community celebration included BBQ burgers and smokies, cake and public tours of the office, Council Chambers and the old jail cells (now used as storage) which showcased the age and deterioration of the building.

Later in the Fall of 2019, a Citizen’s survey was conducted and the results were presented to Council in November of 2019. The results of the survey showed that the majority thought that the current City Hall was lacking key features, such as payment kiosks, privacy for meeting with staff/council members, seating during public Council meetings and short-term parking at City Hall. Respondents showed that they wanted some sort of community hall functionality, a new build should be built for 25-75 years growth, and that funding for a new City Hall should be done through Grant Funding or a combination of borrowing and taxation. Over half of respondents indicated that they supported the building of a new City Hall in Armstrong, in principle. Council made the decision at that time to investigate the costs of a new City Hall for the City.

The City acquired the professional architect firm, MQN Architects from Vernon, BC to start the process of designing the new building. MQN presented several plans to the City and Council. The original design consisted of 2 floors with a Community Hall in the basement, conference/meeting rooms, larger Council Chambers, an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), and office space to expand and grow into the future. Eventually, due to budget considerations, the designs were scaled back to include a single story with an unfinished basement and consists of total building envelope size of 12,000 sq ft. The size of offices have been reduced to ensure that there are enough to grow and expand staff at City Hall as needed over time. The Community Hall and EOC in the basement have been removed from the current plan. Council Chambers has been reduced in size, but will still accommodate a larger group than currently available. On-street angled parking in front of the new City Hall will be created for short-term customer parking. The new City Hall designs were approved by Council in April 2021.

 

FUNDING THE NEW CITY HALL:

The 2019 Citizen Survey indicated that most residents preferred that the City try to fund the new City Hall building through grant funding. The City has attempted to obtain grant funding for part of the building with a strategy to use grant funding to cover part of the costs and to borrow up to $4 million to cover the remainder. The original design was estimated to cost between $7-8 Million. Staff investigated several grant funding programs to determine eligibility and applied for two grants that the project was eligible for, including the COVID-19 Restart Grant ($ 1 Million) and a Community Economic Resilience Grant ($1.6 Million) giving the City up to $2.6 Million of the total build cost. Unfortunately, the City was unsuccessful in both of our grant applications.

The City responded by reducing the design to fit within a $4 Million footprint and to borrow up to $4 Million and use the small reserve fund the City has dedicated to the project.

Council has recently adopted Loan Authorization Bylaw No. 1865, 2020 to allow the City to borrow up to $4 Million to build a new City Hall and Council Chambers. The cost of borrowing to each average family home equates to an approximate tax increase of $80 per year.

Corporate Officer's Certificate

WHAT’S NEXT:

Now that City Council has approved the design plans, the bylaw for borrowing and directed staff to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP). The City will now work to finalize the RFP documents and will post those for bid/tender. Once the City has received the bid applications, they will be evaluated on the several levels of criteria to determine the winning bid and will award the contract as per the RFP.

 

WHEN CAN WE EXPECT CITY HALL TO OPEN TO THE PUBLIC:

Please keep checking the website for project updates and progress reports. At this time, we are hoping to break ground in late 2021 and for an early 2023 grand opening.