What an amazing opportunity for co-ordinated planning and cohesiveness in our community.
North Saanich needs to replace its municipal hall, Town of Sidney its town hall and the Town of Sidney apparently needs to replace its fire hall. It is not often that these opportunities align themselves at the same time and with teamwork and leadership this needed community infrastructure could be achieved with a minimum cost to the taxpayer.
North Saanich and Sidney could build a shared building with three pods: one for North Saanich administration and one for Town of Sidney administration and a shared central gathering place for a council chamber; after all councils only meet on an intermittent basis so sharing of the space is simply a matter of scheduling.
This sort of shared building would provide opportunities for natural integration of common service, operational economies of scale and sharing of staff and yet still provide the distinct society that each council seems bound to preserve.
A mutual location that seems ideal would be use of the surplus community lands immediately south of the Mary Winspear Centre on lands owned by the Sidney and North Saanich Memorial Park Society. These memorial lands are for the joint use of the two communities and ideally suited for a location for a well-designed town hall. By leasing the land the annual rent would go to subsidize the operations of the Mary Winspear Centre which indeed is the community cultural centre for both Sidney and North Saanich.
A well-designed building would start to heal the architectural blight that now exists in this location with its unfinished parking lot, its graffiti-ridden skateboard park and tired collection of cobbled together re-used dilapidated mobile trailers: indeed it would become the hub of our twin communities and reflect our pride in our Peninsula.
Once up and running the new fire hall, complete with ambulance centre, could be built on the current location of the Sidney town hall, thus providing natural synergy as the centralized emergency precinct, thus minimizing disruptions.
Let’s hope our community leaders grasp this unique opportunity for community building.
Richard Holmes, North Saanich