Wellesley Township staff members finally have a workplace to call their own.
After some seven months of construction – long months spent in the cold, cramped portable buildings on site – administrators finally moved into their newly revamped administration building on Lobsinger Line in Crosshill.
Eagerly anticipating the move-in date last week, they were quick to praise the bigger, more environmentally friendly and accessible structure.
“This building is an amazing improvement over our previous working conditions,” said chief administrative officer Susan Duke.
“We’re hoping that the public will feel that it’s a welcoming and warm place to come to do their business.”
Budgeted at roughly $800,000, the facility doubled the size of its predecessor by adding 3,200 square feet. It now features, among other things, a basement beneath a portion of the extension that that will be used for storage.
But there is much more than just size to this new building.
“We’re hoping that it will be a standard for development in the future,” said Duke, noting that a number of green technologies were implemented in the design, including a geothermal heating/cooling system, the use of natural lighting, with low-energy lighting to augment it, and insulated concrete forms that offer a high R-rating.
The changes, in addition to benefiting the environment, are also meant to benefit taxpayers in the long-run.
Operating the former propane-powered heating/cooling system cost the township some $7,000 to $8,000 each year; those high costs will be eliminated with a geothermal heating/cooling unit that will have a very low energy consumption cost associated with electricity, and which should be “recouped within a short period of time.”
Throughout its building process local trades people were relied on heavily, including members of the local Mennonite community who were instrumental in the demolition process, woodworking and roofing.
The building was also planned and built according to the Ontarians with Disabilities Act, so now includes accessible washrooms, low-rise access, and automatic door openers.
Last summer the township received a $65,000 grant under the province’s Municipal Eco Challenge Fund to help offset the costs of the building project. The new project also saw some old materials removed, including fixtures containing mercury components.
It’s been a long journey, but one that was worthwhile, said Duke.
“We have been intricately involved in every decision that has been made with regard to the methods used and the materials used and the labour used and the selection of the companies that have done the work for us and we have been very much involved in that process, so, it’s been an evolution as opposed to a finite, final kind of end result.”
Though now open to the public for business, the building will see an official open house in the new year – likely by the end of January or early February – once minor details are ironed out.