Big push for new administration home

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The long-awaited revamping of town hall has taken a big leap forward.

Last week, town council approved JMAA Architecture (JMAA) to manage the two-year construction/renovation project that will cost a total of $2.2 million and revitalize and expand the 35-year-old administration building.

Council unanimously selected JMAA over two other firms to manage the project at its Feb. 8 regular meeting.

Its approval followed an administration recommendation to award the contract to the Red Deer company for the completion of the project’s design, prepare working drawings, and manage the tendering and contract process in the amount of $121,000.

Council also approved a three-member Administration Building Committee to provide input into the project. That committee will include Mayor Brian Spiller and councillors Patt Churchill and Heather Taylor.

While JMAA will manage the tendering process and complete the final design of the project, the process will include the company making its recommendations to administration, which will then go before town council for final approval.

Helen Dietz, the town’s chief administrative officer, said she was comfortable with the selection of JMAA, a company the town has never before hired for a major capital project.

“I enjoyed working with them on the concept design stage. I think they are very easy to work with. They will give us a schedule of timelines that they would like to stay within, and they have been really good at keeping us on tap,” Dietz told council, adding to council the entire project is being paid through provincial Municipal Sustainability Initiative funding. “They (JMAA) have also been really realistic with costs, anything they are proposing or options they have drawn have been something that has been affordable.”

Dietz said she expects the tendering process for a building contractor should be completed by this coming June, with construction beginning shortly after.

The first phase of the project this year, which will cost an estimated $1.6 million, will not adversely affect staff, as construction will be centred in new space inside the vacant old fire hall. This will include creating a larger 36-seat council chamber, a new reception area and entrance where the three large fire hall bay doors are currently located, a new entrance for seniors visiting the drop-in centre, and a new roof.

“Those (bay) doors will be all gone. That will probably be all solid walls and windows. There will be a circular ramp for wheelchairs, and a nice entrance going up in front of the building,” said Spiller, adding council will continue to use the existing chambers until the new one is completed in the old fire hall.

“It will become a workroom for staff, and for a whole bunch of file storage. We do need some more storage,” said the mayor of the old council chambers.

Dietz added the footprint of the existing building will be extended past the old fire hall driveway, far closer to 53 Street.

As for the second phase of the project, about $600,000 will go towards remodelling the existing space. In a report to council, the existing reception space will be made into a large meeting room, while the current north entrance space will be renovated into an office. The report added many spaces in the existing administration building will remain untouched but “material finishes” can be upgraded throughout the facility.

jbachusky@innisfail.greatwest.ca

Helen Dietz

“They have also been really realistic with costs, anything they are proposing or options they have drawn have been something that has been affordable.”

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Johnnie Bachusky

Johnnie Bachusky joined the Innisfail Province as editor in 2013. He covers Innisfail and Red Deer County news, police, crime and municipal politics. He is also a photographer and columnist.