City staff are in the hall
Surrey City Hall is taking on new life this week as about two-thirds of 650 employees have moved into the building over the weekend.
Surrey's Manager of Human Resources Nicola Webb is overseeing the construction project for the city and said Tuesday morning the building has a great vibe now that many of the employees have moved into the building.
"Employees bring such life to it," Webb said, adding by next Monday morning all of the employees will have been relocated to the new site, at 13450 104 Ave.
Over the weekend, staff from the building at 14245 56 Ave. in Newton were moving to the new Whalley facility.
The Leader got a quick preview of the new 180,000-sq.-ft. building , which is touted as more than a city hall, with its council chambers also serving as a performing arts venue and meeting place.
The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) gold certified building also features a district energy heating system. That system will use geothermal energy, sewer heat recovery and industrial waste heat to warm the building, reducing the reliance on traditional heating methods.
Some have been critical of Surrey spending $97 million on a new city hall, but Mayor Dianne Watts says the move is important for the city.
Watts said last week Surrey's City Centre is going to be the region's next downtown core.
"It's really important, when you're building a downtown core, you have to have a city presence," Watts said.
Watts said that once the city announced it was moving its city hall, Surrey attracted $3 billion in private-sector development in Whalley.
"We get those taxes in perpetuity for other pieces of infrastructure," Watts said. "We can't expect the private sector to invest in our downtown core if we're not prepared to do it ourselves."
She added the building has to meet municipal needs for decades into the future.
"When you look down the road, 50 years, 75 years... all the great cities have iconic architecture," Watts said.
The new city hall opened to the public on Monday. Council meetings will begin at the new facility on March 31, once all the audio-video work is complete.