Winnipeg city hall to get multi-million dollar facelift, upgrade

The heart of Winnipeg City Hall, where councillors meet and have their offices, is getting a multi-million dollar renovation.
Most of the Council Building of Winnipeg's City Hall, built in 1964, has reached the end of its useful life, say city officials. (CBC)

The heart of Winnipeg City Hall, where councillors meet and have their offices, is getting a multi-million dollar renovation.

The building, built in 1964, needs a long list of upgrades that include a new roof, new windows, a modern sprinkler system, upgrades to the fire alarm system, asbestos removal and security upgrades.

The estimate now is that the upgrades will cost $4.1 million dollars but the final cost could range between $2 million and $8 million. 

Brad Erickson, the city's manager of municipal accommodations, says some parts of the building will be gutted.

"The scope of the work is largely for improving the building's technical maintenance requirements," he said. "It's very much a renovation that is looking to restore the [building]. Much of the building structure and systems are at the end of their useful life."

It's unclear how the council chambers will be affected during the work. 

A city spokesperson says an engineering report specifies what has to be done but the report is not being made public. 

Councillors will have no say in whether the work is done or not, but they will be consulted on where they will work as the work is done.

They may move to another part of the building or to another city facility, which could include the Public Safety Building. 

"For most people, if you're doing renovations in your home, and those renovations or improvements to [the] building ... are going to be performed, you have to get behind the drywall for example, right?" Erickson said. 

City will respect building's historical role

Erickson says an analysis of the building's current state of security will be done in order to determine what improvements are needed. 

He says in the end, many Winnipeggers may not even notice a difference.

"To most people who are familiar with the building, they'd have to look closely to see a material difference," he said. "There may be some change to the roof, how it presents, but for the most part the exterior will remain unchanged."

He says the real purpose is to ensure the building's integrity.

He says while modernization is the reason for the renovation, the building is a part of Winnipeg's past and that will be respected.

"We want to make sure the historical structure is maintained," he said. "That building is now considered a heritage building, certain aspects of that building have been classified heritage. It means we have to perform the refurbishment in a certain manner."

The work is expected to start this fall and be complete by 2017.



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