The Regional District of Central Kootenay is expected to seek bids this month on renovations to fit more bodies into its Nelson headquarters.
Chief administrator Brian Carruthers says they’re looking at changes to interior wall configurations, electrical data cabling, and heating and ventilation to accommodate the proposed space plan. They’re also buying new furniture to replace bulkier pieces that in some cases pre-date the present office, which opened in 2000.
Tenders are expected to close in the first week of April, with a report to the board the same month. If approved, the renos will begin in May and the entire project should wrap up by the end of June.
Carruthers said the project will be done in phases to minimize the impact on staff and the public.
“There is going to be some inconvenience, but it certainly won’t impede the operation of the RDCK,” he said. “We’ll make alternate arrangements within the building for work area while [the renos] are taking place. Hopefully the public won’t notice much disruption.”
Once finished the public will, however, notice a more compact front counter where there is presently a large foyer. Client rooms will also be added where people can meet with staff privately.
The changes are expected to accommodate the existing workforce of about 50 as well as up to eight more people scattered throughout the building if the organization grows.
Carruthers called it a “mid-term” solution that should get them through the next five to ten years, but if staff does outgrow the building, the water services division could be moved off site.
He added that if the office ever relocates entirely, they will be able to take their furniture with them. “The whole idea is to look at our needs and use modern, efficient office furnishings that recognize we may not need as much desk space as 20 years ago when we were very paper-oriented. Much of our work is now done electronically.”
Another key part of the plan is a high-density filing system that will centralize the district’s documents, currently spread throughout the building. “It’s going to free up a fair amount of square footage in our office, which in part allows us to increase the staffing capacity,” Carruthers said.
The office’s current configuration evolved piecemeal, without an overall plan, leading to some cramped quarters and awkward spaces, he said.
The board approved hiring a space planner following a committee’s recommendation to remain at 202 Lakeside Drive. Graphic Office Solutions produced two options, one worth about $400,000 and another estimated at just under $600,000, with the work will be paid for out of a building reserve fund.
The plan was in some doubt after the City of Nelson approached the regional district with an offer to share space with the White Building, but that idea was shot down in January.
Carruthers said he still expects the space plan to fall within the initial cost range.
202 Lakeside Drive: RDCK HQ
In addition to the board room, the Regional District of Central Kootenay’s Nelson office at 202 Lakeside Drive is home to the RDCK’s administration, finance, human resources, community and environmental services staff plus emergency management and information technology.
Other district employees work at recreation complexes in Nelson, Castlegar, and Creston, at numerous landfills and transfer stations across the region, and at a satellite office in Nakusp.
Overall, the RDCK has more than 300 staff providing 163 services to taxpayers including recreation, parks, building inspection, bylaw enforcement, recycling and waste disposal, and maintenance of small water systems.