Council chills office expansion plan

Fort St. John councillors have put a freeze on plans to convert a concession stand at the Pomeroy Sport Centre into office space.

At Monday's meeting, council ordered city staff to find another food franchise is interested in the second-floor space, after Booster Juice served notice in April that it was ending its lease.

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The city’s recreation department wanted to turn the former smoothie shop into offices, and move some of its staff out of city hall to where they could work closer to their teams.

The renos were estimated to cost $365,300, and the concession lease has paid the city $55,100 over the last five years.

Coun. Trevor Bolin made an alternative motion to find a new food operator, and council's decision was unanimous. 

City Manager Dianne Hunter recommended council review the city's facility needs in 2021 as demand for administration space grows. A July 27 report to council notes "several corporate departments are growing and adding more staff."

The city leases space at the Francis Work Beaton building for its planning and engineering departments, and is considering a recongifuration of council chambers. More consideration is needed before investing "a lot more money" into renovating buildings, or leasing more space in others, she said.

“There is a need to step back and take a long view on what you need,” Hunter said.

Hunter also noted the city has decided to keep its old RCMP detachment building once the new detachment is opened.

“If that’s the case, we’re keeping it for what?” Hunter said.

The sport centre has been closed since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a tentative reopening date of Sept. 8. The lease for the first floor concession space also expires soon.

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca. 

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