Ladysmith has taken the first step toward relocating to a new municipal hall.
Council voted at its July 6 meeting to borrow $920,000 to acquire four properties on the northeast corner of Buller and First Avenue, including the site of the Ladysmith Museum.
“This is just a prudent action to take to get that property at a favourable interest rate,” Mayor Aaron Stone said of the decision.
The funds will be borrowed from the Municipal Finance Authority at a rate of 1.4 percent, with the option to pay the debt down any time between now and July 2020. The town intends to pay off the debt with proceeds from the sale of other municipally owned properties on Christie Road and Jim Cram Drive.
“I still stand strong in the belief that these properties are of much more value to the town than some of the other properties that the town is holding,” Stone said. “Would I trade for these properties? At the snap of my fingers.”
Included in the purchase are properties at: 721 First Avenue, where the Ladysmith Museum is housed; and 12, 20 and 26 Buller Street.
Stone offered assurances that the Museum will be better off, if and when a new municipal hall is built on the acquired site. “If we were to move the museum, it would be to a much better and higher valued property,” he said.
In a media release issued the day after the council meeting, the Town of Ladysmith said a new municipal hall is needed “because the current working environment is too inefficient. The building is too small and too difficult to update to the standards we require.”
“The location of these properties in the downtown core is ideal. As we move forward we will be able to bring our teams together in one location and improve the level of service we offer to our community and those looking to invest in Ladysmith,” Stone is quoted.
No construction date has been set for a new municipal hall and planning is in ‘the preliminary stages.’
The town will be exploring options “to share space in the proposed building with other organizations such as the Vancouver Island Regional Library,” states the release.
“Until we move forward with the proposed new City Hall, we hope that we may be able to offer the use of these properties to support downtown businesses and community occasions,” Stone is quoted. “They could be used for additional parking or as a location for public events.”