New Burnaby City Hall one step closer

A planned feasibility study will look at the option of building a new city hall

On Jan. 29, Burnaby City Council agreed unanimously to continue with a feasibility study to examine the option of a brand new city hall in the same location of Burnaby’s present city hall at 4949 Deer Lake Ave. A report by the general managers of lands and facilities and planning and development presented two options to council for consideration. 

With option A, the city would renovate and expand the existing building, while option B is to construct an entirely new building. The general manager of planning and development, Ed Kozak, said either option would require building new buildings on the city hall campus. In addition, option A would still require demolishing walls and structures to replace them with others that meet current seismic and accessibility standards. 

“As we looked at different options, we discovered that the most cost-effective with the least disruption would be to build a new building for all the current programs within the city hall and then to relocate the services to that new building,” Kozak said. He added that option A, renovating the existing city hall, would cost more than building a new one, as outlined in option B.

Map of planned new Burnaby City Hall. Photo: City of Burnaby

Kozak also said that building a new city hall would allow the city to meet all the province’s seismic requirements and Burnaby’s zero emissions requirements. It would be possible to achieve inclusive design standards throughout the buildings while including underground parking, which would help reduce the building’s footprint. 

Mayor Mike Hurley commented that the planned relocation of the RCMP building would facilitate rebuilding the new city hall, as the current RCMP building is adjacent to the city hall. He added that he would like to look into the possibility of stabilizing the existing structures so that they can withstand an earthquake. 

“If it is going to be 10 years, we really need to ensure safety for the people who come to visit city hall and certainly safety for the people who work here,” Hurley said. He added that stabilizing the buildings can take the city through 10 years, and he also wanted staff to investigate this possibility. “Also, take into consideration that we may be losing some funding sources with the new provincial regulations around housing, so we really need to keep that at the top of mind that all these buildings will have to be paid for.” 

According to a feasibility study submitted to the council, both options A and B would require 355,000 square feet of buildings. Coun. Sav Dhaliwal spoke in support of the recommendation. He added that the city may need to consider moving part of its operations off the central site of city hall. He used the example of BC’s government now allowing employees to work from home in different cities rather than relocating to Victoria. 

Dhaliwal added that this is an opportunity for Burnaby to look into other ways of working rather than building a 355,000-square-foot building. He said that future feasibility studies should come back showing how safe the staff is in the current buildings in the event of an earthquake, and said that the city needs to think hard about the size of the buildings required. 

This piece was made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

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