Council approves plan to relocate administration staff
St. Albert Place to be community cultural centre
By: By Megan Sarrazin
| Posted: Wednesday, Jul 18, 2012 06:00 am
Some City of St. Albert employees will soon be packing up their offices for a move from St. Albert Place to existing city space elsewhere.
Council approved a four-phase plan Monday that will see St. Albert Place become a community cultural centre, as opposed to a civic administration building, which will help address space constraints at the city hub.
“Our current situation is that the city does require facilities and office locations for its personnel,” said Patrick Draper, city manager. “Space constraints do impact our customer service.”
In the report presented to council, Draper said St. Albert Place needed an additional 11,000 square feet, with the Jack Kraft Public Works building in need of 600 square feet and the Business and Visitor Centre in need of 4,000 square feet.
St. Albert Place was built in 1984 and underwent renovations in the early 2000s to max out the available space.
“There are two fundamental choices: We could move everyone into this building administratively and move out all community functions … or we go the other way and this building, in fact, remains a community centre,” Draper said. “I think this building is really seen as a beacon in the community and a place to come and share.”
The first phase of the plan starts immediately, and will use existing resources to secure 4,000 square feet of space for city administration. Draper said there is no additional cost in this phase, as these buildings are already line items in the 2012 budget.
The second phase is set to take effect in early fall and will secure another 4,000 square feet in the MIG building, which currently houses the St. Albert Food Bank and will be expanded to accommodate some police personnel.
Phase three requires additional funds to secure 7,600 square feet of space and is set to take place after the 2013 budget is approved. Phase three requires additional maximum operating funding of $284,000, in addition to the existing $180,000 already budgeted for.
It also requires one-time capital funds of roughly $490,000, to be decided at next year’s budget deliberations, Draper said.
The final phase includes the creation of a civic space capacity committee that will be formed to evaluate use and provide mid- and long-term recommendations.
Terms of reference will be set in February 2013, with recommendations expected by late 2014.
“I personally agree with this particular plan, simply because the heartbeat of the community is not necessarily the administrative day-to-day functioning,” said Coun. Wes Brodhead. “The heart of the community is where council meets and where people gather.”
Mayor Nolan Crouse agreed, adding, “It should not be an office space first, it should be a community centre first.”
Two community members in the gallery opposed the plan, as presented to council.
Jared Milne said government and administration belong in St. Albert Place.
“Since city hall is the heart of our community, it should remain primarily the area for which all government transactions and business of administration is handled,” he said.
Milne suggested community groups be moved to nearby locations, like Grandin mall and the Hemingway Centre.
Lynda Flannery raised concerns over the amount of funds being used to relocate staff and said administration should stay where it is.
“St. Albert Place is meant to be a city hall, not a glorified cultural palace,” she said.
Council voted unanimously to approve the plan. Coun. Cathy Heron, who was participating via teleconference, did not submit a vote, as her line was previously disconnected.