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Puslinch moves forward with upgraded township hall plans

Puslinch council directs staff to develop further plans and estimated costs to work on the outdated Municipal Administration and Operations Facility
Keegan Kozolanka/GuelphToday file photo

PUSLINCH — The township has moved one step closer to a much-needed update to some of its municipal buildings.

On Wednesday evening, Puslinch council directed staff to further develop floor plans, potential costs and a financial plan to enhance the municipal office and operations building.

Priorities in the plan are the possibility of staff working from home at times, that space be shared with Wellington County and that the building have a low carbon footprint.

“So before we put a lot of time and effort in at the staff level and have the architect put a lot of time into various designs, because that does come at a cost per architect, we’re just seeking some direction from council, which general direction you’d like us to pursue,” said Glenn Schwendinger, CAO.

“So we’re not at the point to say that this undertaking is going to cost X because we don’t know yet,” Schwendinger added.

Council received a report on the problems with the current municipal office and works building, which also houses the local fire hall.

“We’re in need of improvements to the facility of additional space requirements, plus there’s some health and safety requirements, operationally with the facility there are some challenges there,” Schwendinger said.

There are also some concerns surrounding fire equipment storage.

Currently, the firefighters’ gear is stored in the same bay as the trucks. However, it has been suggested that there should be a special room for the gear ensuring that the dangerous contaminants in the gear are minimized. The gear being a fire fighter’s coat, pants, helmet, boots and gloves.

One option in the plans is to have some of the staff of the office working from home. This could free up ample space in the office.

“I do support the work from home model and the resolution in general,” mayor James Seeley said.

Concern was raised about how the public feels about the project. Councillor Sara Bailey wants to be sure that residents of Puslinch support it.

“You want the community to be proud of it. You want them to be supportive of the building we’re doing. You want them to feel like they have given their say and are part of the process. Not just hearing about, oh there is going to be a new facility bunked in, that I didn’t get any say in the matter,” Bailey said.

Councillor Matthew Bulmer supported multiple plans being presented to the architect used by the township.

“I noticed that staff mentioned that they had been working with an architectural firm to this point. I didn’t read anything in there that this could be open to competition for more than one architectural firm to design the building or just go with the existing architect and kind of put it up for tender,” Bulmer said.

Schwendinger stated that the real problems currently in the building are not extreme.

“The identified needs from our perspective in public works isn’t significant. There isn’t a major need required there. The shop space is totally fine, you know our fuel area is totally fine, we have space for storage, it’s all fine. It basically just needs some improved washroom facilities, showers and then some parts storage,” Schwendinger said.

With council’s support and direction, Schewndinger outlined a schedule of development for the near future.

“Our goal if at all possible would be to work on some type of design through the winter period and if at all possible start construction mid to late next year,” Schwendinger said.

Jesse Gault is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.