File photo White Rock city hall, built in 1962, is in need of replacement, council heard at a special meeting on March 13. The 57-year-old structure is not built to current seismic standards, nor is it large enough to accommodate the city’s current number of staff, CAO Dan Bottrill said.

White Rock council calls for needs assessment study for new city hall

Staff study would determine possibilities for new ‘civic precinct’

White Rock council has authorized staff to do a business analysis for eventual replacement of the 57-year-old city hall/civic precinct.

A corporate report from chief administrative officer Dan Bottrill – postponed from the March 11 regular council meeting due to the length of that night’s public hearings – was discussed at a special make-up meeting on March 13.

In his report to council, Bottrill noted that the 1962 building has “outlived its useful life,” and that a rough estimate for replacing it would be in the $16 million to $20 million range.

“It’s run its course, as all assets do,” he said, noting that the building was not built to current seismic standards, that it is no longer able to accommodate all the staff necessary to run the city.

Departments are not properly accessible to those facing physical limitations.

But the biggest problem in creating a new civic precinct while still conducting city business, he said, would be “how do you transition to get to where you need to be.”

A needs assessment would be necessary, he said “so that we can at least take the first step in determining what a new city hall could look like.”

In answer to a question from Coun. Helen Fathers, Bottrill acknowledged that staff might be able to update a needs assessment already conducted by an outside consultant in 2011.

Answering a further question from Fathers about what the process would be for submitting potential costs of a new city hall to the public for feedback, Bottrill suggested that could also be clearer once the needs assessment is completed.

“(It would) determine the amount of square footage you would require, (and) an approximate cost based on that square footage,” he said.

“You could take that to a community forum and outline the issues related to a city hall…you could also use a survey,” he said.

In response to a question from Coun. Scott Kristjanson about reserve funds that might be available for city hall replacement, financial services director Sandra Kurylo said there were two reserves that could be accessed.

The capital works reserve, to be used for upgrading and replacing city buildings and facilities, will stand at $3.5 million by the end of 2019, projected to increase to $5 million by 2021, she said, while community amenity contributions (CACs) can also be used for “an administrative building,” and $9 million (of a projected $15.2 million to be received in the next three years as a result of ongoing development) has yet to be allocated.

In response to Coun. Christopher Trevelyan, who wondered whether – if the city were to develop a new civic precinct – the existing community centre at Miramar Village could eventually be sold off, Bottrill said “everything could be on the table.”

But he said that, rather than disposing of the current community centre, there could be other options to consider in long-term planning.

“For example, you might want to have an additional museum space, or cultural or art space on the civic precinct – things that don’t currently exist,” he said.

“You may wish to have some additional open space – much more significant than what you see on the west side of the (current) precinct.”

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