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Tillsonburg’s moving forward with upgraded town hall study

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Tillsonburg is considering an upgraded town hall.

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Town council listened to a 20-minute overview from Haley Gamble, from Fabrik Architects, at its Oct. 25 meeting.

The overview was bout the study they’ve been working on, including survey results, analysis of the existing town hall and facilities, space needs analysis, considerations on site design and selection, accessibility, concluding with ‘next steps.’

Fabrik was contacted by the town this past summer to review and upgrade a space needs study originally conducted in 2016.

“Essentially the purpose of this re-evaluation was to consider what the space needs might be and how they might have changed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting changes to the workplace,” said Gamble, “and how this might reflect on the total amount of space required and also potential cost implications.”

Over the course of the study three sites were examined – the existing site at 200 Broadway, the Customer Service Centre, and a municipal parking lot at the corner of Harvey and Brock Streets – and each of their pros and cons.

The site selection, said Gamble, would dictate costs, the amount of space that is available and the potential for development.

“At what point in time should there be a selection of an option?” Coun. Deb Gilvesy asked.

“The sooner is probably the better,” said Gamble. “The sooner you get into that process, the sooner you end up with the facilities that you require. It also usually helps to minimize costs on the project longer term. From our perspective the site really governs everything in a project so the sooner you can select one generally the more beneficial it is.”

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Dave Beres noted the importance of having ample room for Council chambers, including room for public seating.

“You’ve got council chamber there with very little in the terms of gallery,” said Beres. “Councils should have a larger area for people to assemble. If there’s a town hall issue to be met, there has to be seating and not people standing in the hallway. Those things certainly have to be dealt with, whichever site is chosen. That is a must to have a significant amount of seating. Comfortable seating.”

Coun. Penny Esseltine noted that some initial costs were given in Fabrik’s report, but noted there will also be longer-term costs.

“I think that what is most expensive changes when you look at costs over 20 years.”

Council approved a resolution to use the Fabrik review as a guiding document for the next phase of the town hall process, including the preparation of a site, feasibility analysis and space design options in conjunction with the town hall steering committee.

“In summary, it was important today that we brought the space needs study and this (CAO) report to council to provide an update where the committee is at to date,” said CAO Kyle Pratt. “Since this was last in front of council, the landscape has changed with COVID-19.

“We wanted to bring this in front of council just to make sure you were okay with the path that we are on and our next steps, to get your blessing on those next steps so that we can move forward,” said Pratt.

cabbott@postmedia.com

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