Council mulls public hub with childcare, gathering spaces

The downtown area would also include a new municipal hall and a café

Can you imagine a public square in downtown Squamish that would include municipal hall, a childcare centre, offices and gathering spaces? 

Council envisions just that.

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The District of Squamish is waiting on an approximately $30,000 consultant’s Civic Block Feasibility Analysis that will outline possibilities and costs for a new municipal hall and public town centre. 

The current municipal hall on Second Avenue was built in 1976 and upgrading it would be a waste of time and money, the report states. 

“It is an aging facility and it is also not really a healthy work environment for our staff anymore,” said Coun. Karen Elliott, who served as acting mayor over the holidays. There are currently 65 to 70 full and part-time staff working at municipal hall, according to a district report. 

“It is quite cramped. We have already put a trailer in the parking lot because we have outgrown the existing space and it is just time to start planning for a new facility,” Elliott added.

Council recently established a vision for the new civic block.

The vision includes a public hub and sustainable buildings. 

“We don’t know if it would be one building or multiple buildings, but we see it as not only accommodating municipal office space, but also possibly some flexible community programming space – whether it is for meetings or the arts or just gathering places for people,” Elliott said. “There are a number of uses we have imagined for… this civic services complex.”  

Partnerships with other organizations are also a possibility, according to Elliott. 

Council agreed the new block should incorporate municipal office space and space for community programming, meeting space, arts space, incubator or accelerator space as well as a café, childcare space and plenty of parking. 

Once the report is back in a few months, council will know how much land will be needed to fulfill the vision and high-level costs for the project, Elliott said. 

The District of Squamish owns several pieces of land where the new municipal hall could be built, including the property where it is currently located and where the Squamish Public Library sits next door. 

“There’s a preference to keep municipal hall downtown. We still see that as the hub of our community,” Elliott said. “But we need to keep working in city hall while we build a new city hall and so we need to understand the land requirements to figure out where it could go and how we could do that.” 

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