Chetwynd celebrates new $5 million town hall

Naomi Larson, Chetwynd Echo Editor


CHETWYND – The District of Chetwynd celebrated the grand opening of their new $5 million, 18,000 square foot municipal hall late last month.

Members of the public were invited to attend the celebration and take a tour of the new facility, as well as bring a Christmas ornament for the District’s Christmas tree.

Chief Administrative Officer Doug Fleming treated the media to a special tour prior to the public and while the building was not 100 per cent complete,

Fleming said the building came in at just under $5 million.

“We’ve added a few new things – like that sky light…it was a rather expensive addition, but it makes the whole building,” he said. (The sky light came in at an additional $80,000) “We made a conscious effort to stay within budget plus or minus 10 per cent. We think we’re going to deliver a plus or minus seven per cent – the equivalent of the provincial sales tax.”

While the District held the line in budget and held the line in quality – they suffered in time.

“Really we thought we’d be in here by the end of October,” Fleming said.

First announced in November of 2012, the project was initially estimated to be completed in January of 2015. It was then pushed to June. And then September. And then October. “But it was worth it in the end,” Fleming said.

The building hosts a large wood contingent, particularly in the Council chambers area. The use of wood garnered the District an award from the Woodworks BC and the Wood Council of Canada for the innovative use of wood in their construction.

“We were pretty happy to receive that,” Fleming said.

The entryway also showcases a permanently placed 2015 Chainsaw carving by Hiramu Kurita.

The building also features an extensive amount of natural light due to expansive windows; a feature Fleming says he hopes will save them on energy costs. “It’s very energy efficient,” he said. “We’re going to save a bundle.”

The lighting for the building is all LED.

Downstairs hosts the front counter for the public, employee offices, the Council Chambers and a committee room as well as the Chetwynd Visitor Information Centre’s winter office.

“In the winter months, we’re going to be closing the Visitor Information Centre building next door and directing people up to this building,” Fleming explained. “We get very little walk through traffic in the winter.”

Upstairs – which either staircase or elevator can access – hosts the Mayor’s office, (which has its own private balcony overlooking the reception area), receptionist area, more staff offices and staff lunchroom. It also has a viewing area into and above the council chambers.

The building’s office furniture has been donated by Walter Energy (10 desks sets and a board table) while Dehua Mining also donated a reception desk for the upstairs.

“There’s lots of work left to do,” Fleming said. “We’re not finished. The crews will be working on this for at least another month and a bit. But we had to make a commitment for a date to open. We had to accelerate the progress.”

Chetwynd Mayor Merlin Nichols thanked the public for attending the opening and showing they “have interest in what happens in this town.”

“This is a beautiful building and it took a lot of wisdom,” he said. “It took wisdom from the people who designed it and laid it out on paper, it took wisdom from those who looked at that paper with drawings representing every part of this building… and put it together. Look at what they made for us.”

Nichols said the new municipal hall represents what they want Chetwynd to be. “This building shows us what Chetwynd can be,” he said. “All of us have had a part in this. This building represents us. We can always take one step further and make things better than what we had before.”

Leon Gullickson of Grande Prairie, AB’s Southwest Design, the main contractor for the building said the project, while long, was successful.

“You’ve got a very beautiful building that you’ll have for many years and be very proud of,” Gullickson said.

In an interview with the Chetwynd Echo later in the day, Gullickson admitted Southwest lost a substantial amount of money on the project, but declined to say how much.

“Due to several factors, including delays outside our control and the sourcing requirements of supplies and subcontractors to meet the large cost reduction from tender amounts, resulted in project losses,” he said.

When completed the new building will host 15.5 staff and seven council members.

Located next to the current town hall on North Access Road, groundbreaking began in April of 2014.