Building new town hall cheaper
than fixing old, council hears

If the Osoyoos town hall were a horse, it would be put out to pasture.

That, in a nutshell, is the message from a North Vancouver-Based engineering and architectural consulting firm hired by the Town of Osoyoos to give a physical to its existing Town Hall.

“It is our opinion that it is not feasible to initiate a major renovation to the existing Town Hall building due to the anticipated scope of work, magnitude of costs and disruption that would be involved,” David Nairne and Associates write in an assessment included in a report from the Town’s Director of Operational Services to Council Monday morning.

“It is likely that a new building could be constructed at a lower cost than initiating repairs and renovations to  the existing building.”

The report immediately brought expressed concern.

“My office is apparently one of the worst,” noted Mayor Sue McKortoff. She recalled a recent visit from a local plumber and his report of his visit to the crawl space under her office. “He said, ‘You’ll be pleased to know there’s only a three-foot drop.’

“It seems from this report that there are some structural changes and various things that should be done immediately,” she added after the report was provided.

It was a concern echoed by Counc. CJ Rhodes.

“When you read about things like fire safety and roofs and floors collapsing — these are things that don’t get better. They have a tendency to get a lot worse,” he said.

“I’m wondering about the wisdom of waiting another year. Is there some way that we could speed this up.”

The review of the building, which is more than 60 years old and includes administrative offices and a vacant firehall, has experienced numerous problems, including leaking roofs and sagging floors.

The report identified several health and safety liabilities and risks associated with continued use of the existing Town Hall building, including:

  • inadequate or non-existent fire separations and fire-resistance ratings on suspended floors and load-bearing walls throughout the building;
  • rot  in the floor framing at the northwest corner of the Town Hall under the Mayor’s office;
  • the existing of numerous hazardous materials (asbestos, lead, silica, mercury and PCBs) in building materials located throughout the building;
  • evidence of potential water problems in the wall on the west side of the Fire Hall.
  • domestic cold water piping in the building shows evidence of recent instances of freezing; and,
  • poor ventilation.

The deficiencies, the report suggests, are creating fire safety, structural and environmental risks and discomfort for occupants.

The report also provides a review of “components and systems” in the building that would have to be improved in order to continue the use of this building:

  • the roof structure above the north end of the Fire Hall should be reconstructed due to existing deficiencies and safety concerns;
  • reinforcement of the Town Hall main floor structure, and possibly the  upper floor structure, will be required to satisfy current live and partition load requirements in the building code.
  • in some cases, concrete foundation walls were observed to have no footings.

The report also suggests a major renovation to the existing facility would be “extensive and disruptive and would involve a major overhaul to all of the building’s primary systems.”

Costs to maintain the building as the Town constructed a new administrative office could be more than $650,000, the report said.

A new building, the report concludes, would cost about $3.3 million. Town CAO Barry Romanko told Council “a block of land is available for (that) building to be built.”

The Town has a tender in the works for repairs to the firehall roof and front entrance roof, Jim Dinwoodie, the director of operational services, told Council. He expected that work, following a tender that had come in substantially under budget, would start in mid-March.

The matter was expected to bring additional discussion at Council’s regular meeting Monday afternoon.



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