Council approves office expansion
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 02, 2013 08:48 am
The Town of Turner Valley will not have to rely on the Sheep River Library for rental space much longer.
At its regular council meeting on Sept. 30, town council approved the purchase of a $168,080 24 by 60 foot ATCO trailer to add on to the municipal building to allow for additional room to host council and public meetings.
Turner Valley Mayor Kelly Tuck said the portable is a temporary solution while administration looks into options for a permanent location in the downtown core to house its 14 staff members and a council chamber, preferably in a shared partnership with another municipality or business.
“In the short term, this definitely makes sense,” said Tuck of the portable purchase. “We are running out of space and this will allow council to have a chambers back at the municipal office.”
Money to purchase the trailer will come out of the Town’s building reserves fund.
The town office was located in the courthouse building from 1997 to 2012. The Province purchased the building from the Town last spring for $850,000 to reopen it as courthouse. The building is currently under renovation.
“I miss having my council chambers,” said Tuck. “This way I will have my own office. Instead of having to meet people at different locations I will meet people at the municipal office.”
CAO Leslie Fitzgerald said the municipal office is tight quarters for employees.
“We’ve got employees so close to each other that even having a conversation with another when one is one the phone is difficult,” she said. “Protective services is housed out of the RCMP because we don’t have space for them.”
It is also frustrating for staff to meet at other locations, said Fitzgerald.
Community Services manager Monique Leblanc said the Town entered into a 20-year agreement with the Province to lease the building it now uses as its municipal office (the former ranger/forestry station and shop) on Windsor Avenue in 2008 for $1 annually. It purchased the building for $150,000 last spring.
“When it was apparent the Province was wishing to purchase the former municipal building on Main Street it was considered to be good value and responsible to solidify ownership and subsequently have control over the future development of the property,” she said.
Leblanc said when the project was put out to tender they were looking for a portable with handicap access, a public gallery, additional meeting space and washroom facilities.
In the meantime, the Town is paying $50 for each meeting held in the library.
“We do want to support the library wherever we can but we are finding it’s not convenient,” she said. “It is extra work for the staff to prepare for the meetings.”
Leblanc said the intent is to use the municipal office for three to five years while Town staff looks at options to find or construct another building. The future of the current municipal building and portable has not yet been determined.
“Staff was given a few years to explore that and research and come up with the best recommendations for council to consider,” she said. “We will allow staff and council the time required to explore their options. Whatever that looks like there will be further discussion — possibly shared services with Black Diamond or the MD.”
Director of engineering and operations Andy Pfeifer said the building should be in place by the end of the month and some additions will be made including covered walkways, a ramp, stairs and a set of double doors.