The Village of Cumberland will need to fix up some of its office space to allow for regular business with the public.
In recent months, it has been closed to the public, as have other local government offices, in response to pandemic restrictions.
The Province recently has been calling for local governments to look for ways to open up council meetings in an effort to ensure these governments remain accessible to the public.
Chief administrative officer Clayton Postings updated members of council at the most recent meeting about plans to reconfigure the office and come up with a safety plan to protect council, staff and the visiting public.
There have some developments such as the reopening of the recreation centre as of July 20. Otherwise, people are able to call or email staff.
“It is available for the community if they’re interested,” he said. “We are still encouraging people to email [or] call in, just to limit the amount of times people do visit the office, but they are able to come by now.”
A first phase of work on the Village office is to include measures such as having two separate entrances, one for the staff and one from the public; dedicated space for a lobby; flexible meeting space; and new workspaces.
Phase one covers the reception and finance areas as well as the kitchen space in the building. The plan is to be finished by October. The estimate for the work is $120,000.
A second phase covers the planning department office and Village manager office. Work is estimated at $70,000.
A third phase includes spaces such as the fire hall and current public works office. The Village is in the process of building a new fire hall. The consideration for council was for the old fire hall to be used as a temporary site for public works staff. At this point, staff does not know what the costs could be.
The staff report notes the Village will review its buildings and properties to develop a long-term plan, which could include what to do with sites like the old fire hall.
Coun. Jesse Ketler had concerns about the second and third phases, citing the need in the future for a new home.
“I really don’t want to invest too much in this building – in particular, the fire hall,” she said, adding she would only support measures over the short term for the first phase of work. “We really know that it’s not in good shape.”
Coun. Vickey Brown has similar concerns about the later phases and asked about whether the Village will be able to recoup costs associated with COVID-19-related alterations.
Postings responded that there may be funding available. He also said he expects to hear about the most likely program in the fall.
Council passed a motion for phase one work and for staff to bring an amendment to the financial plan to allow for work on the first phase of work.