The District of Mission will not be building a new city hall. Instead, several departments are relocating to the downtown core.
The topic of a new city hall has been brought up and debated from time to time over the past few years. The current building is filled to capacity and has had its design revised in order to house all the departments and staff.
“We have been looking for quite some period of time at space requirements. We have been talking about the need to build a new city hall,” said Mayor Randy Hawes.
However, the high price tag, believed to be at least $20 million, has prevented council from moving forward on the idea.
Now council has come up with a new plan.
Hawes said the district owns a large building on Welton Street that has room to house several of its departments.
The plan is to move planning, engineering, bylaws and inspection services to the Welton location.
“That opens up all kinds of room in our city hall. It brings our building to good use and it enhances our downtown, in that it will put a lot more people downtown, which is not a bad thing,” Hawes said.
It will also provide proper workspace for district staff who have been coping with cramped, impractical conditions.
“And it forestalls the need to build a new city hall for a decade, two decades – who knows – into the future quite a ways.”
Hawes said he thinks it’s the best thing for the taxpayers.
When the departments move from city hall to the downtown core, it will free up space for the district to move its IT department, currently located in an old trailer down the street, into the main building.
Other moves can also be made.
“We have people in other buildings, like the public works building, because space hasn’t allowed us to accommodate them at city hall. We can bring those people to city hall that really should be there,” Hawes said.
It also frees up space at public works, which is also dealing with a lack of room.
“It solves all kinds of pressures and we think this makes sense.”
Before the move can take place, the Welton building needs to be reconfigured. It has yet to be determined what that will cost.
“I don’t know yet what the cost of that is going to be but it’s certainly not something that is going to involve borrowing or long-term debt. It’s completely manageable,” Hawes said.
Jamie Hayes, executive director of the Mission Downtown Business Association, believes this announcement is a good thing for the downtown core.
“This is great news. Not only does it bring a fresh infusion of customers, it further shows the investment the District of Mission is making in our downtown. It makes perfect sense to have engineering and development services, along with economic development, in the heart of Mission,” Hayes said.