Whether there is grant money to help pay for it or not, Lake Cowichan’s municipal hall needs an upgrade very soon, councillors say. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

Whether there is grant money to help pay for it or not, Lake Cowichan’s municipal hall needs an upgrade very soon, councillors say. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

VIDEO: Rundown town hall needs fixup fast councillors say

Sweater clad employees must brave leaking roof, too, mayor says.

Push is coming to shove at Lake Cowichan’s municipal hall.

A grant application has gone in to help pay for a long-anticipated renovation project. Now the town is waiting to hear if that’s a go.

But, asked Mayor Ross Forrest at a town council session on Feb. 13, “When we find out that we are or aren’t getting that grant, what are our next steps?”

The South Shore Road building is becoming a bit of an eyesore to some residents but it’s way more than that, he told his colleagues.

“I don’t think we can wait much longer. And it’s not just the looks of the building. We know there are comments about what it looks like but when I come in here in the day time and I see our employees have to wear Cowichan sweaters to work because it’s so cold some days, and other days the roof’s leaking and there’s water dripping, I just don’t think it’s a fair environment for people to be working in.

“At some point, we’re going to have to say, let’s get going on this. It’s not right, it’s not proper conditions for people. The public as well.”

Good point, according to Lake Cowichan CAO Joe Fernandez.

“Well, we could do it in phases, this year or next year,” he told the mayor. “We have budgeted the entire amount for this year so it will really depend on whether the grant is forthcoming whether or not we can do it in a partial phased format this year or wait till next year.”

Coun. Tim McGonigle agreed with Forrest.

“We’ve applied a couple of times for grant opportunities, and we have to make the decision at this table whether we’re going to bite the bullet because as soon as we start we will not be eligible for future grants for this project. We have to take that upon ourselves if that’s the route we wish to take, to do it ourselves, and look at phases.

“We are not going to spend $2 million in one year at the expense of taxpayers without their OK. But, it’s no different than the Centennial ballfield. We can do it in phases.”

McGonigle said that the work needs to get going “for comfort, and for privacy as well. If you come in here when there are people at the front desk you can see and hear everything. That’s not the way to run a corporation and we are a corporate entity.”

Coun. Carolyne Austin said, “I thought we said last year that we would start in January to start at least taking down the Mildred Child [building next door to the municipal office] and at least the bays. Would we need to have a new design for the building if we were going to start doing phases?

Fernandez said he thought the town could stick with the same design but starting on the other buildings could certainly be encompassed.

“We have budgeted for the removal of that building and another building on Neva Road. Those dollars have been allocated. Council can then say yay or nay as they see fit,” he said.


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