Burnaby council has unanimously voted to keep the current Deer Lake location as the home for a new city hall, backtracking on an idea to move the facility to Metrotown.
After public pushback on a staff recommendation to select Bob Prittie Metrotown Library and Civic Square as the site for a new city hall, Mayor Mike Hurley said it was "very clear" that most people wanted to keep the facility where it is at Deer Lake.
"This is the right location at this time," Hurley said at a council meeting Monday, Sept. 11. "It's a hundred-year investment for our residents."
The mayor addressed concerns about whether a "30-storey tower" would be built at Deer Lake, to which he said: "Absolutely not."
He said instead the new facility would be a campus-type site.
Hurley said the $852-million ballpark cost for the project "scared (him) and many others," but noted that figure included programming beyond a city hall, including a convention centre and an art gallery, among other amenities.
"The issue for me of moving to Metrotown is that we would try to program too much ... and we would've got away from a decent city hall. And that's why I think, here, we can stick to a decent city hall," Hurley said.
Metrotown was considered as a potential site for city hall as the town centre is slated to become Burnaby's official downtown.
All councillors spoke in favour of keeping the Deer Lake site for a new city hall.
Coun. Daniel Tetrault said there were some benefits to moving to Metrotown but noted the potential cost and "lukewarm response" from the public meant he could not support a move.
Coun. Alison Gu said Civic Square is not an adequate site as it would have too much of an impact on the city's libraries.
Coun. Richard Lee suggested the design for a new facility be "more connected," as the current campus is spread over five buildings.
Hurley said the city began considering a move because it tried to install energy-efficient windows in the building, but an engineer said that wasn't possible.
"We did some further investigation and found out that the building's in pretty bad shape seismically. It just doesn't meet any standards, quite frankly," Hurley said.
The building also does not meet the city's accessibility or energy standards, according to a staff report.
"This is forced upon us right now. This is something we have to deal with, and that's why we're moving forward. It's not something that people, any of us, want – but it's an absolute need."
Staff will now begin working on a proposal to build a new city hall at the Deer Lake site and report to council at a later date.
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