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Overhauling overcrowded town offices will be a priority for new council

One of council's priorities will be space as a review completed last year indicated current town buildings are bursting at the seams.
Erika Engel/CollingwoodToday

Town facilities are bursting at the seams, and council will need to make a decision soon on what to do about it.

A staff report came before council on Monday night outlining the space issues and concerns.

The report, prepared by Brian MacDonald, director of public works and engineering, outlined that decisions have been made about office space with no master plan in mind up until this point.

“This has resulted in negative impacts to customer service, with service counters in multiple locations, and poor quality accommodations for staff,” he wrote. “Some groups that need to be in close contact are split over multiple locations, office space has been densified, and storage, meeting rooms and amenity spaces have been converted into space for work stations over time, resulting in loss of space for collaboration and amenity use.”

Last year, WSP Projects Inc. was hired to look into the space concerns and come up with a plan. They presented their findings to the Strategic Initiatives Committee on July 9 this year. 

Of the 16 sites that were in-scope of the project, WSP identified two areas of concentration as having significant near-term space pressures. They were town hall, Eddie Bush Arena, the Business Development Centre and three operations sites: Public Works (PW) and Park, Recreation and Culture (PRC) buildings, the Water/Epcor building and the Georgian Triangle Humane Society (as it is located on town-owned land).

In the long-term, between 1,940 and 2,720 square metres of additional space is required to accommodate town administration over the next 15 to 20 years. In the short-term, WSP suggested leasing office space to accommodate interim moves during renovations while investigating the potential to create a consolidated operations hub for the town that could house public works, water, and parks, recreation and culture operations and administration.

On July 12, the previous council voted to support the recommendations in the report in principle, and asked for a staff report back to the Strategic Initiatives Committee during budget deliberations with proposed options and costing for consideration. 

At a Strategic Initiatives Committee meeting on Dec. 12 - this current council's first one - staff included an agenda item suggesting the accommodation review implementation be a priority item for this council to be considered during budget season. Staff offered to prepare a report on next steps and recommendations based on the findings in the Master Accommodation Plan created by WSP Projects. 

On Monday night (Dec. 17), current council voted to direct staff to bring forward a report on recommendations based on the WSP report.

With files from Erika Engel

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Jessica Owen

About the Author: Jessica Owen

Jessica Owen brings 12 years of experience to her role as regional reporter for Village Media, primarily covering Collingwood, County of Simcoe and education.
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