Town council has taken a significant step on the path to finding a new home for municipal administration.
At its Oct. 14 meeting, council passed a motion directing administration to enter into negotiations with Jameson Holdings Ltd. to secure appropriate accommodation for the town’s administrative services.
The space to be discussed is the recently-closed downtown True Value hardware store .
The need for new space originated in July when the existing town hall was vacated due to air quality concerns.
It is still to be determined how much space will be involved in the negotiations, and there was some concern on council that the terms in a request for proposals (RFP) were being exceeded.
Mayor Andrew Cassidy said the proposal from Jameson Holdings Ltd. met the terms and conditions of the RFP, but two other scenarios are available.
“The intention here is for administration to begin exploring those other scenarios and then report back to council on what they feel would be the best option for the town,” said Cassidy.
“That’s something we didn’t request in our RFP, though,” responded Coun. Vince McKay, noting that if council wanted other scenarios it should have requested that in the RFP and other people might have had something to offer.
Other councillors did not appear to be bothered by the additional scenarios.
“I’m comfortable with this motion because, again, it comes back to us,” said Coun. Mike Maher. “I agree I’m not looking at potentially buying a building at this point. I think that’s outside of the scope of what we’re looking at.”
Maher said he would be comfortable with a three-year lease, but noted a little more space might make sense so council could meet there as opposed to the Hay River Community Hall.
Coun. Keith Dohey also supported the motion, noting, “I think this gives the administration a chance to check out all the options that were in the RFP.”
The motion passed with only McKay opposed.
Coun. Kandis Jameson declared a conflict of interest and did not participate in the discussion or vote.
Town administration has told council that it would not be a prudent investment to spend large sums of money on renovations at the town hall as it is approaching the end of its useful life.
Limited financial resources are also preventing the municipal government from constructing a new town hall.
Interim accommodations for staff have been provided at other municipal facilities since the town hall was vacated.
In August, administration initiated a request for proposals for leased office space, and received two responses.
The proposal submitted by Jameson Holdings Ltd. was determined to provide better value to the town.
In an interview with The Hub, Cassidy explained the RFP involved “the bare necessities” for administration, and sought anywhere from 2,500 to 2,800 sq. ft. of space in a three-year lease with a three-year option to renew.
“So basically, what happened was at the closure of the RFP, there were two bids,” he explained. “And the successful bid, the one that provided the best value, that one also provided a couple of options. They provided their original quote for the specific terms we asked for. However, they also said there were other options available if we wished to negotiate additional space.”
Cassidy declined to provide a lot of details on the other options, noting they are subject to negotiations.
The mayor said the space formerly filled by the True Value store totals about 10,000 sq. ft. and the town would not require all of that.
Cassidy noted town administration is currently involved in budget preparations, but he still expects a report to council on negotiations with Jameson Holdings Ltd., probably in the next couple of weeks.