Renovated Courtenay City Hall called an example for others

The architect who gave Courtenay City Hall a facelift believes the building is a model for other communities across the province.


The architect who gave Courtenay City Hall a facelift believes the building is a model for other communities across the province.

Architect Martin Hagarty made a presentation about the renovation Monday and told council one of the project goals was to turn the building into a facility that would make people proud to live in Courtenay and that would match the quality of other nearby civic buildings like the Native Sons Hall, art gallery, library and Sid Williams Theatre.

“I think it fits into the history of the way the City has treated its civic buildings, and you guys have set a really good example for towns on Vancouver Island and throughout B.C.,” he said. “I think it’s a really good project.

“The feedback from the public and from other architects on this building has been really good. I think when other municipalities see what can be done with an old building and especially on what I would say was a pretty controlled budget, I think it is a good example. Comox has already asked.”

Hagarty thanked the team that worked on the renovation, which began in July and had a budget of $595,000.

“We basically created a budget for the project before we started,” said Hagarty. “We had a fairly big contingency because of an old building which we knew the building envelope was in poor condition, and we made allowances for that. We also created a schedule; basically, we said we wanted the outside finished before the election. We came in under budget, and we came in ahead of schedule for the main part of the work.”

The project involved extensive repairs to the building envelope and included new wood, stone, aluminum siding and window upgrades that included a large new window over the council chambers and part of the second floor. The project also included a complete revitalization of the exterior entrance, including new landscaping, benches and seating areas and pavers.

Construction was done by Muchalat Projects Ltd.

The stone on the building comes from Vancouver Island, and Hagarty told council they tried to source products locally and from the Island as much as possible.

Hagarty is particularly proud of the exterior sign.

“We wanted what is called a halo sign so the letters themselves are not lit, but there’s a light inside that casts a reflection on the wall,” he said. “The sign is designed in two ways: it was made quite long to basically provide another layer of design for the big screen, which is quite long; also, as you walk by the front of the building, each letter is kind of a decorative element, but when you drive by, you read them all together as the sign. I’ve driven by at night, and I’m really pleased with the halo effect. They’re all LED lights; we’re hardly using any energy at all on the outside of the building at night, and I think the sign looks great.”

Coun. Jon Ambler says the feedback he has received from people is that they really like the building.

“We’ve all talked about the future of Courtenay, and it’s actually a signpost about what we think of the future of our city,” he said. “It’s not a crumbling, decrepit building that we’re hanging onto by our fingernails.

“We have some civic pride. It goes in with our campus downtown; we’re all committed to doing better for downtown and making it really thrive. At the end of the day, we started this and we all recognized it definitely needed doing, but I think for me, it’s even exceeded our expectations, and it’s really a great thing.”

City administrator Sandy Gray thanked everyone involved in the renovation project, including Hagarty and his crew, Muchalat and its crew, and the city crews that worked on the landscaping.

“To everyone involved in the project, it’s been very successful, and we had a lot of fun with it and would look forward to working with any one of you again,” he said.

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