Town hall building beyond repair: Town faces double whammy of making present town hall safe while planning replacement

By on March 6, 2018

It makes more economic sense to replace the historic Osoyoos town hall rather than do a major renovation, says a consultant’s report brought to council (Richard McGuire file photo)

The condition of Osoyoos town hall has deteriorated to the point that is makes more economic sense to replace the historic building than to repair it, says a consultant’s report provided to council.

Concerned council members discussed the report Monday using words like “scary,” “terrible,” and “calamity” as they discussed what repairs might be needed to keep the present building safe until a new one can be built.

Noting that the floor frame under her office was rotting, Mayor Sue McKortoff wryly noted that the drop below is only three feet.

The town is hit with the double whammy of having to make interim safety repairs to the existing building while figuring out how to finance a new building costing millions of dollars.

The report estimates needed spending for repairs to the existing building at more than $660,000 over the next five years and for planning and constructing the new building at more than $3.5 million. That’s based on the assumption that a new building is built and occupied five years from now.

The condition assessment by David Naime and Associates Ltd. (DNA) was carried out in the first months of 2018 after the firm was hired in December 2017.

“It is our opinion that it is not feasible to initiate a major renovation to the existing town hall building due to the anticipated scope of work, magnitude of costs and disruption that would be involved,” said the report.

“It is likely that a new building could be constructed at a lower cost than initiating repairs and renovations to the existing building.”

The report is contained in the agenda package for council’s committee of the whole meeting that took place on Monday, March 5.

Among the health and safety liabilities and risks associated with continued use of the existing building are:

  • Inadequate or non-existent fire separations and fire-resistance ratings on suspended floors and load-bearing walls throughout the building;
  • Rot in floor framing under the mayor’s office;
  • Evidence of water ingress in the wall on the west side of the old fire hall;
  • Cold-water piping has had recent instances of freezing;
  • Lack of adequate mechanical ventilation in the building, which negatively impacts air quality;
  • The building doesn’t comply with the current national building code with respect to withstanding seismic activity.

The construction history of the building is unclear, said the report, but the building is more than 50 years old and was constructed in sections over time.

At this stage, the report was simply provided to council for information, but administration recommended that this project be included in 2019 capital budget planning discussions to consider funding a feasibility study for a new administrative building.

Coun. C.J. Rhodes wondered about the wisdom of waiting another year.

“Is there some way that we could speed this up a little bit?” he asked. “When you read things about fire safety and roofs and floors collapsing and that kind of thing, these are things that don’t get better… I’m just wondering about prolonging it a full calendar year. Some of these things sound just terrible.”

The report says the existing building could continue to be used if council proceeds with planning and construction of a new building, but routine maintenance and limited capital upgrades and repairs would be needed to address immediate life health and safety risks over the next few years until a replacement building is constructed.

In mid-February, council voted to spend $63,000 to repair immediately the leaky roof at the front entrance of town hall and another section covering the former fire hall.

Barry Romanko, chief administrative officer, noted that although the current budget is virtually completed, the town could monitor if other projects come in under budget and possibly allocate money from reserves or contingency funds to start the planning process. Council could also cancel some projects or amend the budget, he said.

The first stage of planning for the new fire hall was around $120,000, Romanko said, suggesting there may be ways to obtain the necessary funds to start from this year’s budget.

Coun. Rhodes noted that for a community this size, a project of $3 to $4 million is monumental. He raised the possibility of partnering with a developer to add a commercial aspect to the project.

Coun. Mike Campol noted that in the bigger picture, there could be other projects such as the police station that will need attention.

“I’m hoping that the time spent with the feasibility study really won’t be zeroed in on just the town hall, but looking at some of the other assets that we either own or don’t own that can be brought together into one project,” Campol said. “I just want to make sure that we’re not looking at another project five years down the road of an aging facility.”

The bulk of the repairs to the existing building would be in year one – $387,280 – while the majority of the cost of the new building – $3,177,693 – would occur in years three to five.


Osoyoos Times


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  1. Mark

    March 8, 2018 at 7:54 pm

    I’m no mathematician but how is $660,000 more expensive than $3-4 million?

    Also, moderately finished commercial construction costs in the range of $250-300 per square foot. Is the town really planning to build 15,0000 or more square feet of space?

    I’ll hazard a guess it also comes in significantly over that budget by the time it gets built. This seems like a terrible waste of taxpayers money.

  2. Sylvia

    March 9, 2018 at 10:11 am

    Has Council considered temporarily renting office space instead of repairing existing city hall, demolishing existing city hall/old fire hall and putting new building on that same site? And what about the aging building next door currently used for art gallery and other community groups? There are likely many other options worthy of consideration that would be more cost effective for taxpayers.

  3. Alison J

    March 10, 2018 at 12:03 pm

    It seems that the supposedly needed upgrades to the existing building sound excessively expensive considering the building’s purpose is for daytime office use only (not for people to be there 24/7 or living in). Or: if the current space is honestly totally unacceptable for humans to be the current building 9-5 on weekdays, then maybe the town can rent or purchase another more modern building in town. EG what about the BC tourism building at the highway intersection?

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