Municipal hall

Does the Squamish Municipal Hall need to be replaced?

Both SD48 and the District of Squamish have aging facilities that need to be replaced.

The Sea to Sky School District has renewed interest in developing a multi-purpose facility in partnership with the District of Squamish.

At their Jan. 12 meeting, the school board attached a letter it had sent to the district on Dec. 14.

This is an addition to the ongoing communications that SD48 sends to the municipality.

The school board offices and the municipal hall are aging buildings that need to be replaced.

For now, the District has decided that leasing a building—as opposed to building a new town hall—is the least costly route for ratepayers and has chosen that option.

However, it will cost nearly $1 million a year, and critics — including a former mayor and a former chief executive — say paying rent to a developer will leave the municipality with nothing to show for in the long run.

They discussed a possible partnership with SD48 that could help split the bill for a facility to reduce costs while retaining at least partial ownership over a building.

The letter on the school board meeting agenda said the board had discussed a letter it had previously sent to the district in November, which expressed interest in a joint building partnership.

The December discussion further underscored the council’s interest in partnering for a multi-purpose facility, the letter said.

“At this point, we believe that our participation in a future multi-agency community center has the potential to involve a number of different uses that will benefit us and the public,” the letter read.

“Modern office space that includes[s] conference rooms and adequate space are of immediate benefit. Beyond that, we are very interested in exploring uses such as childcare, preschool, mental health, adult education, and post-secondary partnerships. As the discussions and vision progress, other opportunities may arise that provide added value to the citizens of Squamish, while enabling School District #48 to effectively fulfill its mandate to students, parents and the community.

The letter also says that SD48 secretary-treasurer Danielle Haverstock recently received a message from the municipality’s facilities manager proposing a meeting this month.

“We look forward to working with the District of Squamish,” reads the letter, signed by Board Chair Rebecca Barley.

In response, the District of Squamish told the Chief that a meeting between the two parties had taken place.

“Staff worked with SD48 staff throughout the real estate and facilities master plan discussion,” spokeswoman Rachel Boguski wrote. “Staff have met and will continue to meet, and we look forward to the ongoing dialogue.”