Building begins on Chetwynd’s new Municipal Hall

Mike Carter, Chetwynd Echo


CHETWYND – Final approval for the construction of Chetwynd’s new town hall has been given by council. The district awarded Grande Prairie construction firm, Southwest Design & Construction the contract to build the $4,157,742 project.

The new building will be located next to the current town hall on the North Access Road.

Total funding for the project including all works not related to the construction of the building, is tagged at $4.7 million.

Chetwynd will fund the project through Fair Share tax surpluses, a municipal hall reserve fund and a sustainability reserve fund.

Director of Financial Administration Bill Caldwell explained that the sustainability fund was created years ago to collect from several areas such as BC Hydro grants-in-lieu, into a reserve.

“This is used for any major infrastructure projects, economic diversifications and if for some reason we had a big drop in revenues, say we lose a [company] or something like that, we could draw on some of that so it doesn’t make a real impact on taxpayers right away. It gives us a little cushion in the bank account before we have to make any rash decisions,” he said.

Original estimates for the building’s construction, furnishing and landscaping costs were estimated at $3.9 million. Bidding for tenders closed in June 2013, and in July significant changes to the design had to be made as bids that were received were in excess of $2 million over the original budget.

The two lowest bids pegged the project at a cost of more than $6.1 million, with only $3000 separating the two.

Cuts to the design included nixing a $95,000 sound system in the council chambers and a staff gym. A rock façade on the face of the building has also been cut.

Construction on the new town hall was supposed to begin in mid-July last year, but that proved to be an ambitious goal when the plans were first announced in spring 2013.

Construction is now expected to begin this spring as soon as the weather allows.

Preparations for a new municipal office building have been in the works for at least 25 years.