The City of Duncan plans to have a seismic assessment done this year on its aging City Hall.
After CAO Peter de Verteuil told council at its meeting on Feb. 16 that renovations are still underway to expand the office space in the iconic two-and-one-half-storey red brick building, Coun. Garry Bruce asked when the seismic assessment would be done.
“I think it has been established that the building would be in jeopardy in the event of an earthquake, so I wonder when we plan to have it prepared for one?” Bruce asked.
“City Hall is made out of aged bricks and it gives me the heebie-jeebies. We’re working on improving the interior and that’s great for the people that work there, but what happens if the building comes down in an earthquake? Is that on our radar screen?”
De Verteuil said staff share Bruce’s concerns about safety and the city intends to conduct an assessment this year of the landmark building, located at the intersection of Kenneth Street and Craig Street in downtown Duncan.
“It was on our radar screen for last year, but we didn’t get to it,” he said.
“But with council’s blessing, we did add a bit more capacity in the building. The assessment will be done this year, and we’re quite certain [the cost of seismically upgrading the facility] will be big, but it’s difficult to know just how big at this time.”
De Verteuil said having the assessment done will give some indication of the costs and allow the city to devise a plan so it can seek grant funding from the provincial and federal governments to seismically stabilize the building.
“Until we get the numbers, it’s difficult to apply for any grants for the work,” he said.
“We anticipate that there will be a number of stimulus grant programs established to help deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, and we’ll try our best to line up some of these grants later this year.”
Duncan’s City Hall was originally built in 1913 as the Federal Building and post office and was used as a post office until 1958.
After the post office moved to its current location on Ingram Street, the building that would become City Hall remained underutilized and poorly maintained.
By the early 1970s, it had deteriorated to the point at which demolition was being seriously considered.
That changed in 1974, when former Mayor Ken Paskin and the city council at the time decided to renovate the building into a new city hall.