The District of Kent is outgrowing its current office space and hoping to expand into the empty fire hall next door.
The hall has been sitting vacant since the Agassiz Fire Department moved to its new hall about four years ago. They issued an invitation to tender for the structural renovation of the hall on July 12. And last Monday, the district’s building inspector, Henry Kuipers, led a group of interested contractors through a tour of the building.
On the tour, he explained the shortcomings of the building, the scope of work needed at this point, and the future plans to eventually expand operation the district hall.
“Being a renovation project, we’re trying to think ahead of time (of potential problems),” he told a crowd of about 15 potential contractors. “But being as we know in this industry, there is always a can of worms hiding somewhere.”
The building is about 40 years old and the District has confirmed there is asbestos in the drywall joint filler and ceiling texture, some of the carpeting and the upstairs floor tile.
Plans include adjoining the fire hall building to the current office building, moving council chambers into what was the fire truck bay, and enhancing the second floor into future office space. Right now, staff uses the second floor for storage of some materials — a situation they would like to see improved, Kuipers said.
But the current job at hand will be to get the building to “lock up stage,” he said. That will include mostly a structural upgrade to the lower level and the joining of the two buildings.
Some of the work includes replacing the existing beams and constructing new foundations, constructing a new entryway and passage between the two buildings, creating new wall openings and doors and windows, building a new washroom area, removing the existing garage doors, as well as reconstructing existing plumbing and modifying the electrical work.
This is just the first phase of a larger plan, Kuipers said. When this step is complete, they will move onto the more detailed phase two.
It has taken three years for the district to save up the funds to get to the tender stage, he said. And it will take more time before the building is ready to occupy. In the meantime, the staff will continue to work in the current building.
“We’re running out of space,” he said. “It’s getting pretty tight in there.”
Tenders are being accepted until 2 p.m. on August 24.