WESTLOCK — The Heritage Building will undergo some major renovations, beginning this fall, that includes several exterior and interior upgrades and a brand new HVAC system.
Town of Westlock councillors unanimously voted 6-0 at the Sept. 11 regular meeting to amend the 2023-2024 capital budget for DPC80-09 - Heritage Building HVAC energy efficiency and building exterior upgrades to all sides of the building from $423,000 to $794,700, which will be funded from the Municipal Building Reserve. Coun. Curtis Snell was absent.
“This project is for the Heritage Building and specifically for HVAC upgrades to replace (the) aging boiler system with forced air duct heating system,” said director of finance Julia Seppola in a presentation to council.
“This replacement will renew the forced air systems to be 98 per cent efficient. It’s moving from 30 per cent efficiency (which is) a significant upgrade.”
The work is scheduled to begin later this month with an estimated completion date of January 2024.
The Heritage Building dates back to the 1950s and was once used as a primary school in the 1960s and 1970s. The Town renovated the southeast portion of the building in 2021, where washrooms and Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) offices are currently located. The library and roof of the building were also repaired in 2016 and the council chambers were established in the building in 2017.
During her presentation, Seppola noted they received a $200,000 provincial grant from the Northern and Regional Economic Development (NRED) program that funds initiatives led by Alberta municipalities, Indigenous communities and non-profit organizations that promote regional economic development and diversification.
“The original budget was $423,000 (and) the HVAC was $233,700 of that,” she said, noting of the packages provided, the one selected had “good options, some innovative drawings and met what we believe to be council’s goals for this building.”
Some of those goals include making it more efficient and improving the exterior look of one of the main buildings that’s considered to be the entrance of the historic downtown core.
Due to time constraints in configuring numbers, “we were off the mark and the amounts that we came up with are short and they only do part of the building,” Seppola said, noting that only the front of the building is included with no signage.
“This is also going to take place likely over the winter so there’ll be a heating and hoarding contingency as well as just for what we’re going to find because they’re going to be pulling off several of the wall panels underneath the windows and insulating there and doing some new framing around those windows.”
Administration is requesting $73,700 initially to complete Level 1 of the tender package, which includes recladding the front of the building corner to corner with no signage. The original doors would remain, and with heating and hoarding and a contingency, that comes in at a cost of $263,000.
Level 2 includes signage at a cost of $38,000 while Level 3 includes adding the back of the building, the full exterior package, additional heating and hoarding and a contingency at a cost of $260,000.
“Signage is also important. It’s not necessary entirely for the building and can be done at a later date, but to meet our requirements under the NRED grant and to maintain that $200,000 grant we need to do at least the Level 1 tender package,” said Seppola. “Signage is $38,000 and … the full exterior adds another $260,000.”
The entire cost of the project for all levels is $794,700 including an HVAC system, signage, interior walls at windows, exterior siding, contingency and heating and hoarding. The additional budgeted request will be $371,700 to complete all three levels.
Seppola provided councillors two options and noted some of the challenges and disadvantages of each.
Following her presentation, councillors discussed and asked questions pertaining to price, signage, the need for renovations, the exterior look of the Heritage Building and its prominent location.
Coun. Abby Keyes noted the importance of the Heritage Building that houses the Westlock Library, Family and Community Support Services and the council chambers.
“It’s a heart of our community,” said Keyes. “It’s important to make sure that it looks good so I’m all for it.”