White Rock needs a new city hall.
It’s a statement that’s been made time and again for at least a decade.
As officials confirm similar conversations are once again underway, at least one veteran councillor says it’s high time the issue moved beyond just talk.
“I’ve been talking about a new city hall for 10 years, 11 years,” Coun. Mary-Wade Anderson, who was first elected in 1999, said Monday.
“We need a new city hall now. We have needed one, and it’s time we got on with it.”
The existing municipal building, at 15322 Buena Vista Ave., sits on city land bordered by Pacific Avenue to the south, Fir Street to the west, Buena Vista Avenue to the north and Centre Street to the east. The city’s police and fire departments share the site, along with White Rock Library.
The city hall itself was built in 1962 – and it is showing its age, Anderson said.
“There’s no return air, there’s no air conditioning, there’s no proper heating… the carpet is all worn, the furnace is getting old and there’s no elevator,” she said.
“It’s certainly not representative of the majority of chambers in the Lower Mainland, most of whom are getting new ones.”
In White Rock, “it keeps getting put off and put off.”
But if the city’s latest annual report is any indication, there is renewed hope.
According to the report, released earlier this month, determining the future of the municipal offices was identified as a key strategic goal in 2010, with implementation of any direction from council to get underway in 2012.
Mayor Catherine Ferguson said she expects that direction will come before the fall. A review of the city’s options is to come to council in July, she said.
Ferguson said she “can’t imagine” what kind of cost would be attached to such a project. However, she is hopeful a partnership could be reached with a developer in order to keep the burden off of taxpayers – “but that all remains to be seen at this time.”
Ferguson and Anderson both said it makes sense that a new city hall would be multi-purpose, to make best use of the space. More and more, cities are opening up their municipal halls for community events, from weddings to theatre productions, Ferguson said.
While a site has not been identified, Anderson said a city hall in the town centre would promote business and revitalization there.
Coun. Al Campbell agreed. He said addressing the issue is long overdue but he is confident talk, this time, will evolve into action.
“Something has to be done. The next term, I guarantee you, whoever’s on (council), they will be coming to a conclusion.
“It won’t be let go now.”