The Town of Bonnyville Councillors & Mayor received a special treat at Tuesday’s Council Meeting, a 3-D design adventure of the new Town Hall. The final design and build approval are still to come, but excitement was infectious as architects from Manasc Issaac were on hand to reveal the final design concepts for Council. Mayor of Bonnyville, Gene Sobolewski, says along with the overall design, there were a few features he was impressed with; including, space for future expansion and community rooms, energy-efficient materials, green availability, and tradition.
“I was very pleased with the design,” says the Mayor, “it’s a relatively simple design, but the nice thing is there’s a little more than just putting up a roof and cinder blocks.” In the plans is a third level that is yet to be finished. The idea is to leave the space open for future development or maybe rent out to a community group or organization. “The building will be functional for the community space. Initially, the upper level is empty and likely it will house a user group. We’re also forecasting that there will be a community room.” The community room will have a separate access so groups can hold meetings or functions after business hours, “hopefully, it’ll be a multi-use building,” states Mayor Sobolewski.
The Town plans to keep energy costs down with the new design, says the Mayor. “There’s a little more thought in terms of keeping costs down in the long-term; such as air conditioning and heating.” The design features shading panels on the west side of the building that will serve a few purposes. First, they can shade in the summer to keep the heat of a mid-afternoon sun out of the building. Second, in the winter they keep the heat in the building, and third, they add lots of natural light, keeping lighting costs down.
Should the Town decide to add solar panels, the design allows for green energy, “the nice thing is the building will be ready to house the solar panels.” Mayor Sobolewski says this is ideal, however it may not be a viable option cost-wise, “of course, we’ll have to look at the cost of solar panels. That’s a huge capital cost, it’ll save you phenomenal amounts of money, down the road, but the upfront cost, sometimes people get a little bit worried about the costs of things.”
The mayor appreciates the architects’ homage to the old building in the new design, “the one thing I love is the incorporation of the old building. Bricks from the old building will be put as some of the decorative side of the sidewalk and the foundation will be used as bench work, that’s a nice touch.” Although the final colour schemes have not been decided there is strong discussion of murals being painted on the walls of certain rooms to display “old Bonnyville”, as well as, three large murals in the front entrance/reception area that depicts Bonnyville’s heritage and culture.
Should the construction move forward, the idea is to build directly behind the current Town Hall, with no displacement of Town staff during the construction process. “It’s going to be business-as-usual. Yes, it’s going to be a little annoying with the packing and some of the noise work. But, we’re hoping to try to make the transition seamless.”
The project is still in the initial stages and doesn’t yet have an estimated timeline. “What we want to do is get through the design work and estimates. Right now, the plan could change. If this [design] comes in hugely over budget, the way we have it now, then we obviously have to sharpen our pencils and maybe we’ll have to reduce.” Once the design is approved, it moves into tendering for contractors, “once we move into tendering contractors, they tell us what it’ll cost to build and it still might be too much. So we might have to do some refining.”
The goal is to support local, says Mayor Sobolewski, “we want to focus on local, put local people to work, have local people do the murals, and focus on the history of Bonnyville.” There will be an Open House for the new Town Hall on March 15th at the Seniors’ Community Centre. The event is open to the public with an invite to all contractors, sub-contractors, and tradespeople to attend from 3:00 – 5:00 pm and the general public from 5:30 – 7:30 pm.