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Modern look for council chambers in first update since late 1970s

Council and staff during their first council meeting Tuesday night at the renovated chambers in Shire Hall.

County council returned to holding its meetings at Shire Hall Tuesday, April 25, marking official completion of a renovation project that began last fall.

Last spring, council had shelved the extensive renovation project, asking staff to investigate other uses for grant money previously received ($130,000 municipal modernization funding), noting a $428,627 project may be premature as a full accommodation plan for Shire hall was still under way. However, following application success for $199,174 from the federal and provincial governments for the purpose of improving municipal infrastructure, council allocated an additional $100,000 to cover the municipality’s share.

Built in 1874, Shire Hall had not seen any significant improvements since the early 1980s and council chambers was last updated in the late 1970s.

Mayor Steve Ferguson says council is thrilled to return to its home at Shire Hall. Council had been meeting at the Wellington Community Centre.

“The renovations strike a balance between honouring the history and tradition of the council chambers while also making the space more accessible and inviting for the public we serve.”

Staff worked with local architect Scott Bailey from Branch Architecture on the planning and architectural design and Jeffery G. Wallans undertook the construction of the project.

Current renovations include a new look chamber with an upgraded audio-visual system, acoustic panels and new cameras as well as improved wireless internet for the public to watch or participate remotely.

The project contractor used custom millwork to build the desks where council sits. Existing elements, such as the audience benches and chairs, were re-used or re-purposed wherever possible. Colours and textures were designed to signify the natural beauty of the County, including blues to represent abundance of water, grays to represent sand and stone, and natural tones to represent woodland.

The original staircase was rebuilt using the original banister, replica spindles and adjustment of stair height to meet current building standards.

While the building was closed, building code and accessibility upgrades were also done in other areas, including new flooring throughout, restoration of the original terrazzo in the building’s foyer, updated lighting, painting and re-configuring of work spaces.

Staff seek external funding sources for future work to renovate the entrance and washrooms on Shire Hall’s main level.

The former chamber horseshoe, photographed from the public gallery area.

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