Work starts on new North Saanich district hall

$2.5 million North Saanich project continues through 2016.

Construction and foundation work has begun on the first phase of the upgrades and expansion of the municipal hall.

Foundation work has begun at the District of North Saanich’s municipal hall as crews open the first phase of a $2.5 million replacement project.

The municipality recently issued development and building permits to Verity Construction Ltd. and the company broke ground the week of Dec. 7 on the new wing. Between now and the middle of next year, construction of a new south wing takes place. Trees have been removed at the front of the building and part of the parking area was torn up as the foundation for the new wing was laid out.

Rob Buchan, chief administrative officer, says windows have been boarded up to protect workers during construction — and from the inside, municipal staff have decorated the windows in a festive manner so they don’t have to look at plywood all day.

The building remains open for business. As the second part of the project comes up in mid-to-late 2016, more staff and the District council itself will be displaced.

Buchan said in a previous interview that if the work goes as planned, the staff will be able to move into the new wing to avoid disruption of service.

However, reconstruction of the north and east sides of the building means the council chamber will not be available. Buchan said last week there are a few options on relocating council meetings, however a decision hinges on construction time lines for phase two of the work.

The project has been on North Saanich’s books for years, as portions of the existing building have been damaged by water leaks and other structural deficiencies. The building is made up of a series of structures, built at different times and linked up.

The work will see the municipal building upgraded to withstand earthquakes, create better office space and include new technology such as an innovative battery wall to provide a constant power supply.

Parking at the front of municipal hall has been affected by the construction. Additional public parking is available at the rear (or north side) of the building.