Work is underway on the new RM of Prince Albert Administration office, which will include council chambers and the maintenance shop as part of the new development on Highway 2.
The RM recently closed the tender process on Tuesday, with a final decision yet to come.
The project is being partially funded by the Municipal Economic Enhancement Program (MEEP) 2020. Design planning and discussion has been going on for more than a year.
Reeve Eric Schmalz said the RM has a vision to expand their capacity to provide services in the RM.
“We are constrained currently by the size of our administration offices. It's a very small space and it has been shared with the RM of Buckland,” Schmalz said.
The office on River Street also contains the Prince Albert Rural Water Utility and Prince Albert and district planning commission while the RM Shop is located elsewhere in the RM. He explained that with a municipality they tend to grow and it was becoming constrained with so many tenants.
“We are bursting at the seams,” Schmalz said. “We need to expand to be able to provide the services that we need to provide for our ratepayers.”
The shop is in the same situation, except with for equipment storage problems. Schmalz said they have no capacity to pull the large road milling equipment into the current facility, when they need to store it during the winter, or do repair and maintenance work.
“This is why we need to build this building—to be able to maintain our fleet of equipment and again make sure that we can provide timely service to the ratepayers,” he added.
The consultation on the design took place over many months. Contractors and both private and public entities who have been in similar situations before the project were part of the discussions before sending out for a Request for Proposals (RFP) on SaskTenders in August.
“We kind of nailed down where we wanted to be as far as facilities in the building, and also keep a good balance between the money that we would be spending on the facility (and) what the infrastructure will look like,” he explained.
The new facility will be located in the new development on Highway 2. Signature Development Corporation owns the land on the east side of the Highway 2 and Highway 11 corridor just south of Prince Albert near Flaman’s. Work is underway for a multi-phase project set to include commercial and residential development.
The first phase involves building a service road that runs parallel to the highway. It will run from the north and connect with the RM property where the new facility will be located. Schmalz said that the opportunity arose to secure the opportunity, and Signature made them an offer.
“We were looking for a new space in a centralized location and a larger land holding so there would be room for storage of materials like (road) aggregate and possible expansion down the road,” he said.
“If you look at the facilities we have had, maintenance shops and that, you reach a certain point that you are bursting at the seams and you have to look to expand again and we want to try to avoid building new buildings every 30 years. We want to have something that we can expand into in the future.”
The land they will be building on is 25 acres, with the facility occupying the 12 acres to the north.
The RFP closed on Tuesday and the sealed bids are currently in the hands of the RM administration to be discussed in the future, possibly at their next meeting on Sept. 16.
“We will be reviewing those and making a decision based on what we find in those proposals,” Schmalz said.
Another advantage to the location is that it is centralized in the RM with easy access to the city, and for people visiting the facility itself.
“We are on a main trunk highway with access to most of the roads going east and west in the RM and it will allow us to receive materials into our building as well as allow egress for our equipment to go out,” Schmalz said. “It will also allow ratepayers and residents to come in and be able to access the facility probably a little more easily than it was downtown.”
Schmalz added that the RM is thrilled to see the project moving ahead.
“The RM council and administration is very excited about the new development, and for the ability for us to be part of that new development and finally have all of our administration offices at home in the RM of Prince Albert,” he said.
Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald