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Fort Macleod council, Livingstone Range School Division move forward on shared office

gr davis school

Fort Macleod council took another step last week toward turning G.R. Davis school into office space to be shared with Livingstone Range School Division.
Council approved a project development governance agreement at its March 27 meeting at Fort Macleod RCMP Centennial Library.
The agreement will allow an architect to be hired to start detailed construction plans so the project can be tendered.
The Town of Fort Macleod and school division will share the $292,500 cost.
In February council and the school board approved a memorandum of agreement forming a legal partnership between the school division and Town of Fort Macleod.
Under the agreement, the building will be jointly owned, with a serviced lot transferred to the school division for development of a maintenance and transportation shop.
G.R. Davis school was declared surplus following the $18-million modernization of W.A. Day and F.P. Walshe schools in Fort Macleod.
The school division and town will share a reception area, council/board meeting room, fitness area, information and technology support services, staff room and kitchen, and operational services.
The east main floor of the building will be predominantly occupied by town administration, with the east second floor occupied predominantly by the school division for administration and operations.
The west wing of the building will be left undeveloped due to the cost of asbestos removal and reclamation, the agreement states.
Livingstone Range and the town will each contribute $2.5-million to the renovations.
“Given the current state of the economy there is a positive sense that we will come in under budget on this project,” Town of Fort Macleod chief administrative officer Sue Keenan said.
Council in its 2017 capital budget designated $1.1-million from its provincial Municipal Sustainability Initiative grant.
Council plans to borrow the remaining $1.4-million, an amount that could be reduced by proceeds from the sale of the present town office and former public health building on 26th St.
Another $500,000 will come from the town’s enhanced land sales reserve to reduce the debenture.
Mayor Rene Gendre again questioned the cost of renovating the old school.
“It is a lot of money,” Gendre said, questioning how much money will come from the sale of the town office and former public health building.
Keenan said she is more optimistic in regard to funding for the project coming from the sale of the properties and grants from the provincial and federal governments.
“I think we are going to see some grant funding for this project,” Keenan said. “I have no idea how much, but I’m staying positive.”
Keenan said the benefit of having Livingstone Range School Division relocating its central office to Fort Macleod from Claresholm will make the financial investment of the town worthwhile.
“That’s an economic gain for this community,” Keenan said. “I think it’s an investment this council should make.”
Coun. Michael Dyck agreed.
“I’m in favour of this,” Dyck said. “Now is the time to act on something like this because the current situation of the town office is not meeting the needs and it hasn’t for quite a long time.”
Dyck introduced a motion to approve the project development governance agreement.
“I agree wholeheartedly with Coun. Dyck,” Wolstenholme said. “It’s going to be good for the town, and it will be good for the town office too.”
Gendre wondered what Wolstenholme meant by “good for the town.”
Wolstenholme said it was a matter of common sense.
Coun. Mike Collar said there is an obvious benefit of more jobs, and more people working in Fort Macleod, as well as the shared cost of operating the building.
Gendre said he is in favour of the project.
“I’m no against it,” Gendre said. “I’m just making sure the taxpayer understand what the cost is, and if somebody says there is an economic benefit we should be able to quantify that.”
Deputy Mayor Brent Feyter said there is an added benefit of repurposing what would be an empty building in Fort Macleod.
Coun. Trish Hoskin said Fort Macleod families will benefit from the presence of school division staff being here day-to-day.
“They’ll be able to see some of the unique challenges that we face,” Hoskin said. “I don’t think we can underestimate the effect that’s going to have on our town.”
Coun. Keith Trowbridge said Fort Macleod residents have expressed to him a positive response to the project.
“I’ve heard many, many comments that it’s about time,” Trowbridge said. “Finally something is coming to our town. It’s our turn. I haven’t heard a single negative comment . . and there’s a lot of people talking about it.”

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