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St. Marys town hall once again open to the public after renovations

By Galen Simmons

After roughly half a year of renovations, St. Marys town hall is once again open to town staff and the public.

Since late last fall, town staff and members of council who normally work in offices and from council chambers at town hall have been working elsewhere as the heritage building underwent a full remodel that includes an expansion to council chambers, new, gender-neutral washrooms, an accessible washroom and the installation of new technology that will improve both the public and staff experience in the building.

“It all went well,” St. Marys Mayor Al Strathdee said. “I mean, with an old building, there was a couple surprises. We found a beam that wasn’t where we thought it would be. It was kind of funny. When they did the last renovations in the ‘70s – no one’s real sure exactly when they did the last renovations, but it was in the late ‘70s – they took a beam halfway across the council chambers. I don’t know why they did it, but we just assumed they’d put it all the way across – we were trying to open up the council chambers – and it didn’t. It only went halfway. So that was something nobody knew.

“It was interesting. They had to drop another beam and they dropped it through the stage and the floor up above. It was really cool how they did it.”

Besides using a portion of the project’s $150,000 contingency fund to put that new beam in place and address other unforeseen issues, the town-hall renovations came in nearly $300,000 under budget. The costs of the interior renovations themselves came in at just under $450,000, and the town spent $150,000 on new furniture and $80,000 on new audio-visual equipment.

“We actually have proper washrooms now and we also updated wiring and modernized for broadcasting and video and so forth because we’re all doing that now. A lot of modernization, we moved a few of the offices around, there’s new flooring, new paint and we just fixed up a lot of old plumbing. On the main floor, there was a bunch of plumbing where, once they got into it, it was worse than they thought. So they modernized that.

“(This work) will allow for better internet, better broadcasting capabilities, a bit better for police downstairs; just little things that will make a big different. The place looks really nice. It turned out better than I expected. I stayed away from the colour choice and all that. It was Coun. (Fern) Pridham and Coun. (Marg) Luna on the committee who did all that stuff. … It looks really, really good and it’s certainly more functional.”

Strathdee said the blue paint was selected for the interior walls to be on brand with the town’s official colours. And while Strathdee says the space is now more modern and functional with more room for the public in council chambers, the contractors were able to maintain that heritage-building feel throughout the town-hall interior.

“They highlighted a lot of the woodwork and the traditional architecture that was there, which was pretty neat,” Strathdee said. “It’s got the traditional feel but it’s very modern. The people on the committee and staff did a great job. It’s better for when we have events upstairs, better for the public when they come for meetings. You’ll be able to see better, hear better and it’s better for the public when we broadcast, too. All the way around, it will be more accessible. It was just time. Nothing had been done for 50 years.”

While the majority of the town-hall renovations are complete, Strathdee said the elevator is still out of service, which means councillors won’t return to town hall for meetings for a few weeks yet. In a press release, the town said the public will have an opportunity to see all the work that has been done inside town hall at a future open house, the exact details of which will be announced once available.

Town hall’s regular operating hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The following staff and services operate out of town hall:

• Chief Administrative Officer

• Clerks Department (licencing, bylaw enforcement, council correspondence)

• Community Outreach Worker

• Mayor Strathdee

• Stratford Police Service

• Tourism and Economic Development

Staff are also available to assist with general municipal inquiries and accept payments.


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