Lake Cowichan’s town hall renovations have begun and at this stage of the game, things are on schedule, according to CAO Joseph Fernandez. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

Lake Cowichan’s town hall renovations have begun and at this stage of the game, things are on schedule, according to CAO Joseph Fernandez. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

Lake Cowichan Town Hall tenders issued, project on track so far

The entire project is tentatively scheduled to be complete by the end of 2022.

The work on the municipal office upgrades has begun. The first phase is the geotechnical work on the ground that will support the new council chambers.

Lake Cowichan Chief Administrative Officer Joseph Fernandez confirmed that the tenders have gone out for the construction of the chambers as well as the renovation of the office space and updating the exterior finish.

“Tenders were issued and I think the closing date on that has been revised to Nov. 16,” he said.

The entire project is tentatively scheduled to be complete by the end of 2022.

“Construction is set depending on who is successful and when they could start,” Fernandez explained. “Cost is an issue, too. Just because it’s been issued doesn’t mean it’s automatic that we’ll be starting work.”

Budgets need to be met and, as with most construction projects, there always seem to be unforeseen hurdles to be jumped along the way.

Council received a letter from Ken Traynor, the president of the Cowichan Lake River Stewardship Society, voicing the society’s concerns with the municipal hall upgrades.

“The Lake Cowichan area is now experiencing a time of rapid growth with many new people moving in who are often unaware of regulations governing the riparian zone. It is up to all waterfront owners to do whatever they can to protect the riparian zone and to set an example for others on how development of waterfront property must coexist with respect for the riparian zone. There is no more important waterfront property owner than the Town of Lake Cowichan itself in setting an example,” he wrote.

In the letter, among other concerns regarding the construction and its impact on the waterfront, Traynor wondered if the town looked for other sites to expand the hall, aside from right next to the riparian zone.

Lake Cowichan’s town hall on South Shore Road is more than 60 years old and it was determined many years ago that it would need a major renovation project to continue to meet the needs of the community.

“They thought we should be looking at an alternative location for the council chamber,” Fernandez explained. “We’re actually reducing it by one bay. The footprint will be a little smaller.”

The former Lake Cowichan firehall was located adjacent to the town hall. It was demolished in August of this year.

Aquaparian Environmental has been retained by the town to make sure everything is above board when it comes to compliance with riparian area regulations.

During their Oct. 26 council meeting Fernandez told council that “for the benefit of the public, they need to know that council has been at this for over eight years. We were actually looking at a building that was much larger than what is current envisaged. We have since downgraded the building and reduced the size of the building. It’s going to fit on the current footprint, less one bay. We have got permission through the Ministry of Environment, which allowed us to work on the riparian area adjacent to the town hall and everything has gone fairly smoothly. In terms at looking at other options, we have. Past councils have and current council have determined that this was the best location in terms of making sure that the view to the river is open, that it’s not blocked off and it’s just the general consensus that this is how it should be.”

Councillor Tim McGonigle noted at the same meeting that therre’s still time to make sure everything goes according to plan, if not above and beyond.

“I’m sure that moving forward once the project is done, there could be some riparian remediation that would be implemented in the landscape architecture plan. I’m sure that we’ll be looking at that moving forward on the completion of this project. Just to be clear that we did go through the proper channels,” McGonigle said.

Mayor Bob Day agreed, noting, “The short story is, we’ve followed all the regulations and it’s going to be a beautiful project when it’s all done.”



sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Lake Cowichan

 

Lake Cowichan’s town hall renovations have begun and at this stage of the game, things are on schedule, according to CAO Joseph Fernandez. (Gazette file)

Lake Cowichan’s town hall renovations have begun and at this stage of the game, things are on schedule, according to CAO Joseph Fernandez. (Gazette file)