Hope council discusses possible District Hall revamp

During a recent Commitee of the Whole meeting, Hope Council was presented with possible development plans that would consolidate District Hall, the Visitor Centre and Museum and Arts Gallery in one new building. (Screenshot/District of Hope)During a recent Commitee of the Whole meeting, Hope Council was presented with possible development plans that would consolidate District Hall, the Visitor Centre and Museum and Arts Gallery in one new building. (Screenshot/District of Hope)
A study from Cascade Facilites Management Consultants suggested the much-needed upgrades to current emergency services could be applied through the re-development and consolidation of current district facilities. (Screenshot/District of Hope)A study from Cascade Facilites Management Consultants suggested the much-needed upgrades to current emergency services could be applied through the re-development and consolidation of current district facilities. (Screenshot/District of Hope)

There might be some new development in the heart of Hope.

Cascade Facilities Management Consultants consulting principal Henry Ahking presented before Hope Council during a Committee of the Whole meeting on Feb. 22, immediately following the regular council meeting. Ahking discussed the long-term Hope Facilities Master Plan, which according to district CAO John Fortoloczky, an initiative designed to plan maintenance, prioritization and construction of buildings over the course of the next 25 years.

“The District Hall building as part of Memorial Park is really quite central to all the (district) facilities and quite central to the town,” Ahking said. Taking a look at the property at 325 Wallace St., Ahking suggested rezoning the property to allow for consolidated development without pushing into the park itself.

Ahking proposed building the visitor centre, musem and arts gallery on the site.

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“What that does is bring additional out-of-town visitors into the community,” Ahking said. “The thought was ‘hey, let’s bring them downtown, let them spend time in Memorial Park and maybe have coffee and just explore the town.’”

Ahking said this development could help breathe new life into the central business district and potentially create more tourism buzz.

“We’d like it to be a catalyst,” Ahking told the council. “It’s going to be the one building with some significance. All the other buildings are nice, even heritage buildings, but they are normal buildings. To gain maximum efficiency of the site, we want to build close to the edge of the property on Third and Wallace Street, and that’s consistent with the other buildings in the central business district. It also helps to animate the street front.”

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According to Ahking’s presentation, Fire Hall No. 1 is currently the oldest and lowest-scoring building based on overall condition. In contrast, the library and aquatic centre scored the highest, but no district facility reached past “fair” and into “good” or “very good” condition based on Cascade’s assessment. Ahking said the facilities in the very poor category should be considered for redevelopment.

Cascade assessed five different areas across the district as potential development sites, but the sites either were located in residential zones, had insufficient room or a long distance from the central business district. Ahking suggested selling off the unusable land parcels for more capital allocated to construction and improvement.

This led Cacade to the current site of the District Hall for the Visitor Centre, Arts Gallery and museum. By consolidating the Visitor Centre, museum and the Arts Gallery into one area on Wallace Street, this frees up space at the current Visitors’ Centre site for more potential parking and for redeveloped Search and Rescue and fire service facilities where the Art Gallery stands. Based on the study from Cascade, a plaza and additional parking could also stand where the District Hall is now, connecting more open space to the existing Spirit Square in Memorial Park.

Total costs of the redevelopment projects for District Hall and Fire Services/Search and Rescue run approximately $12 million and $6.3 million, respectively, according to Ahking.

Councillor Bob Erickson questioned whether or not development was possible on the Wallace Street property, given the District Hall butts up against Memorial Park. Fortoloczky said district staff would look into the matter before continuing further.

In the near future, district staff would seek council’s advice on public feedback gathering and assessment on the Facilities Master Plan.

“It’s a great start to the conversation as far as long-term facilities asset management goes,” Fortoloczky said of the meeting.

Founded in 2003, Cascade Facilities Management Consultants is based in Cobble Hill, B.C. and extends facililty management and emergency planning services across the province.

The next regular council meeting is scheduled for March 22 at 7 p.m. via Facebook Live at www.facebook.com/DistrictOfHope.

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