White Rock council is on a “fact-finding mission” to determine if city hall could be relocated to the town centre.
Monday, the group directed staff to prepare a Request for Proposals for the facility’s potential relocation.
Mayor Catherine Ferguson stressed the move does not mean a decision is being made on the hall’s future.
It comes in response to a 2008 Facilities Master Plan that noted inadequacies with the current 15322 Buena Vista Ave. building, which was built in 1962.
According to the report, those inadequacies include the lack of an elevator, limited accessibility for people with disabilities and limited parking. In addition, council chambers has inadequate ventilation, sound and audio-visual systems, and limited space for public meetings and multi-purpose use.
The study concluded that the estimated $3.6 million needed to renovate the existing facility to current building-code standards would be roughly the same as the cost of a replacement building of the same size.
Before incurring renovating costs – which wouldn’t include any expansion or upgrades – council decided to explore other options: relocating to the town centre and relocating to another spot on the Buena Vista site, with the latter raising the possibility of a new multi-use city hall and library facility and allowing some residential redevelopment opportunities on a portion of the site.
Relocating to the town centre “appears to be the most cost-beneficial to the city,” the report notes, adding it gives residential redevelopment potential to the existing site, as well as the church property on the corner, which the city now also owns.
Revenues from redevelopment could be used to offset costs of construction of a new city hall in the town centre, making the relocation “neutral or revenue-positive to the taxpayer,” according to the report.
City manager Peggy Clark noted Monday that there wouldn’t be any transitional costs, as the existing building would continue to operate while a new one is built.
Coun. Mary-Wade Anderson said a move uptown “makes a great deal of sense.” A central plaza where people can congregate is needed, and it would be a good opportunity to create a space that could accommodate city business during the day, and other multi-purpose uses at night, she said.
Coun. Grant Meyer said the relocation would help revitalize the town centre “hugely,” while Coun. Doug McLean noted he would prefer moving into a new development rather than an existing storefront.
Council is expected to review the draft RFP when they reconvene after the summer break. It is to be based on estimated space requirements of 20,000-25,000 square feet. The fire hall site would not be included in an analysis of the site’s redevelopment potential.