Erin council looking into office renovations

Changes to the municipal offices here may be coming soon, after design concepts were presented to council at a Dec. 15 meeting.

Paul Sapounzi of VG Architects gave a presentation to councillors showing different ways to meet their space needs.

Sapounzi identified three areas of improvement to the existing municipal building on Trafalgar Road south of Hillsburgh, including the expansion of the council chamber, an increase to staff space and improved accessibility throughout the building.

The architect provided the designs to the Advertiser but CAO Kathryn Ironmonger told the Advertiser the presentation was about concepts rather than plans so she would not be putting the presentation on the town’s website or include it in the agenda package.

Sapounzi recommended a two-storey addition at the north wall of the council chamber and storage area in the basement, which would increase the size of that area by 80 per cent.

He suggested a change to the configuration of the council chamber, which would increase the gallery size.

The basement expansion would allow eight to 12 new work areas and maintain a storage area. At the moment there are no windows for the area but the expansion and a sunken terrace on the exterior would allow floor to ceiling windows.

Sapounzi recommended a renovation to the current reception area to allow more accessibility for the public and reclaim space for staff.

His last recommendation included the addition of an elevator to improve accessibility to the entire building.

Sapounzi said the current clerk’s office would be the perfect spot to incorporate an elevator. “In fact, I think it was designed to having an elevator in that location so it’s a pretty easy retrofit to get it in there,” he said.

While councillors liked the design plan, councillor Jeff Duncan said an expansion likely won’t happen.

“The larger expansion I don’t think is something that’s going to fly. I was on council when we paved the parking lot outside and that caused a lot of emotions at the time,” he said.

Duncan added the current gallery space is adequate.

Councillor Matt Sammut echoed his comments.

“It’s nice to see this but finances do play a role in every decision that we make,” said Sammut.

In 2016 budget discussions Ironmonger originally asked for $260,000 for foyer and accessibility renovations for the next two years, but only $50,000 was approved for the renovations for 2016.

“Staff have identified changing the counter space to address the public would probably be the first phase of this and staff’s preference,” said Ironmonger. “At least we have the opportunity to spread it out over a number of years and wait for our growth.”