Clinton council has approved the borrowing of $1.2 million to construct a new public works yard at Elliott Park, a plan that Clinton mayor Susan Swan says has been in the works for several years. The borrowing bylaw was given first three readings at the council meeting on Jan. 27.
The current public works building — which Swan describes as “an ugly old barn of a place” — is located beside the Memorial Hall, and dates back to around the time that Clinton was incorporated in 1963. Swan says there are gaps between the boards, and the bay area for equipment has a dirt floor. “It lacks a lot of modern efficiencies.”
It is also not large enough to house all the equipment in one location, meaning that the village has to lease space in other locations around Clinton. “There’s just not enough space there, so we have equipment stored in leased properties around town. It will be more efficient to have everything in one location, and it will be a cost saving to the village if we don’t have to rent other spaces. Having it all in one place makes sense.”
The need for a new public works facility has long been on council and staff’s radar; Swan says it has been part of their strategic planning for at least four years. In 2015 a working group consisting of two elected officials and two or three village employees was formed, and worked for a couple of years to find a location. Elliott Park, off Kelly Lake Road to the southwest of town, was settled on as the best spot.
“It was the right size and location, and the property is owned by the village, so we didn’t have to procure a piece of land,” says Chief Administrative Officer Murray Daly. “That could have added hundreds of thousands of dollars to the cost.”
Elliott Park currently contains a baseball diamond, dugouts, viewer stands, a concession building, and a parking lot, but Swan notes that the site also has a huge area with nothing on it. She says that the public works yard will have no impact on what is currently on the site.
She notes that the plan to relocate the public works yard to Elliott Park has been talked about for some time, and says that any residents who want to look at conceptual drawings of the proposed facility and its location are welcome to come into the village office. She adds that unlike the Dawson Road Maintenance yard in the middle of town, which sees traffic at all hours of the day and night, most of the time crew will only be using the yard during normal business hours on weekdays.
Daly says that while an architect was hired to do some preliminary work, the Request for Proposal that was posted merely stated that the village was looking for a building of a certain size; what it looks like has been left up to the applicants.
“One of the things we’re keeping in mind is where it’s going,” he says. “We don’t want a big metal box; we want something more in keeping with the location, so we’re keeping that in mind when considering the submissions. It will represent the village, so we want it to have a good appearance and fit in well with the neighbourhood while keeping the cost in mind.
“It won’t be an extravagant building, but we need something to suit our needs. We’ve been planning it for many years, so it wasn’t meant to be sprung on anyone.”
Daly acknowledges that the proposed $1.2 million loan is a lot for a community the size of Clinton.
“We’re very cognizant of value for money. And the loan will be for $1.2 million maximum. We won’t spend that amount if we don’t have to.”
Once the new facility is built, Swan says the plan is to tear down the current building, which will improve the appearance of the village and create more space for parking at the Memorial Hall.
“A common complaint of people who use the hall is insufficient parking.” She adds that since the village office was at one time located in the portion of the Memorial Hall adjacent to the parking lot (where the kitchen and washrooms are now), locating the public works yard beside it probably made sense at the time.
“The timing is right to get this done now. We’ve made the decision to borrow the money over a 30-year period, and that will be baked into the budget and five-year financial plan.”
The loan request still needs to be approved by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and then the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, so Swan says there will be no construction until spring 2021 at the earliest. There is no projection about when the new facility will be finished, but Swan says it would be nice to have it completed by fall 2021.
“We’re really looking forward to seeing it advanced. It’s much needed.”