The $5.7 million renovation of Red Deer’s City Hall is now complete, and the building is expected to re-open to the public in mid-April.
Along with the replaced windows, Red Deerians will see a newly renovated main floor.
Erin Stuart, inspections and licensing manager for the city, said the main level will contain all of the services the public needs. Red Deerians will be able to pay their utility bills in person, purchase parking passes, and compete licensing, inspections and permit applications at six new kiosks.
At tax time, Stuart said staff with property assessment know-how will come down to answer people’s questions at one of the kiosks.
This new “flexible” layout, including a main-floor meeting room, means the public will no longer be allowed upstairs at city hall, unless to attend city council or municipal planning commission meetings.
Stuart said the main-floor service area will create more accessibility for the public, but also more security protection for city hall employees working in upstairs offices.
However, residents will still be able to take the elevator to the second floor to attend public meetings (when in-person meetings resume), as there will be security guards present, as usual, she added.
The renovations to City Hall started last spring and were initially going to be phased in over a number of years. Instead, they were all competed by the end of February.
Stuart said it made logistical sense to accelerate the upgrades while most staff were working from home during the pandemic, so the workforce later wouldn’t have to be moved around and inconvenienced.
The building’s leaky windows are now replaced, the previously drafty exterior walls are insulated, and the aging mechanical and electrical systems are upgraded. Stuart said. “It was a smooth process and its great to see one of our largest assets upgraded.”
She added, “We are also really excited to get our main floor open” as city staff are looking forward to dealing with Red Deerians in person once again.
A few protection and safety measures, related to COVID-19, must still be ironed out. But she anticipates the main floor of City Hall will reopen to citizens mid-next month.
The downtown building has been shut to the public since the first lockdown in March 2020.
For a few months, in-person city bill payment and other services were offered at the Red Deer Recreation Centre, but that service was stopped after the second partial lockdown was announced by the province in early December.