New Town Hall opening next week “on time and on budget”
Excitement is in the air at 37 Sandiford Drive. With just over one week to go before the new Whitchurch-Stouffville Town Hall opens down the street, town staff are packing and taping boxes at a frantic pace.
“We are all very excited.” Mayor Wayne Emmerson said last week as he gave us a sneak peek at the renovations.
And renovations they are. The Town purchased the building at 111 Sandiford Drive, the former Cook Canada location. It is immediately south of the Imperial Centre that the Town currently rents.
Furniture begins to be moved over this Friday with staff moving next Tuesday after the holiday weekend. Doors open to the public Wednesday, August 3rd.
“We have needed this for a long time.” Emmerson said. “We are not a hick town anymore.”
The total budget for the move, including land purchase, renovations, legal fees and environmental assessments, is $10,150,000 according to Marc Pourvahidi, Director of Finance/Treasurer for the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville.
Is the Town on budget and on time? “Absolutely!” says Mr. Pourvahidi.
The Town will be using approximately 38,000 square feet of the building’s 62,000 sq. feet. YorkWorks, a service run by the York Region District School Board that facilitates unemployed or underemployed individuals, is renting 7,000 sq. feet on the second floor of the building at approximately $75,000 / year.
They paid for their share of the renovations with an approximate budget of $265,000, Mr. Prourvahidi said.
The Town’s portion of the building will be 25% larger than the space they currently have at 37 Sandiford Drive, where they rent the fourth floor.
“We overbuilt, but that’s a good thing,” Emmerson said. “Eventually we will need more room.”
The Town’s portion of the new building is all on one floor. Public parking will be on the north side of the building.
Emmerson stresses customer service at the new building. As visitors and residents enter the main doors on the north, they will be greeted by a customer reception area where staff can direct people to the necessary department.
Planning and by-law issues as well as getting permits, can all be handled at the front door reception.
Emmerson said the Town is hoping to change office hours to 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and even make it possible for residents to come in by appointment during off hours.
The new council chambers is located just inside the front doors and will have to capacity to handle overflow crowds in the halls. Large video screens will be available to watch.
The first council meeting in the new Hall will take place August 23 at 9:00 a.m.
Much of the town staff, including the Mayor’s office and a councillor’s room, will be in the back of the complex with separate private entrances from the south.
The new extra-large staff kitchen, complete with patio and BBQ, “is a huge step up,” Emmerson said with a smile.
Amongst the kitchen, IT rooms and staff offices, is a room that will house all the Town’s files.
“We will not have to store files in Vandorf or at the Silver Jubilee building anymore. They will all be here” Emmerson said.
The remaining 17,000 sq. feet is currently warehouse space. Council will decide “in the near future” how it will be used, Pourvahidi said.
The Town is planning an Open House some time in September for the public to come and check it out.