Surrey’s city centre just became more complete with the official opening of the new city hall building on Monday, Feb. 17th at noon.
The 210,000 square foot facility also has a new parkade with 810 parking spots. There will be 750 staff working out of the new location.
It features six storeys of office, meeting and community spaces and among the perks of the new design is its chamber room, which transforms into a theatre space when not in use for council meetings. A public daycare is another of the key amenities.
The structure cost $97-million to build.
Its location, at 13450 104th Avenue, a few minutes’ walk from Surrey Central SkyTrain station and bus loop, is more convenient for public access, according to Barinder Rasode, city counsellor.
“The SkyTrain being here at this point, SFU, the new library and Central City creating this anchor to have good open public space, where we can have festivals and community gatherings, it was a natural choice and it’s been on the books for many, many years,” she said.
The old city hall building, at 14245 56th Avenue, was geographically central but far from any social or cultural axis, said Vincent Lalonde, manager at the City of Surrey.
“It’s the next metropolitan core for the region, so putting the civic government in its core in its city is really something that was a desire.”
While it’s much easier to get to by public transit, the City of Surrey’s online presence has also been transformed to make civic engagement easier.
“Residents don’t all have to come to city hall. We’ve expanded our online services in order for them to access a lot of the services,” he said.
The new facility has community spaces built in to its design, including meeting rooms of different sizes, all equipped with projectors and screens, that members of the public can book.
Efficiency will also be improved as services that were once separate and dealt with at different counters are now unified in a more simplistic process.
“In city hall there’s four service areas, not just in the old city hall, but outside,” explained Lalonde. “So community services was in another building, bylaws was in another building, and so now it’s all combined here.”
On the main floor is a service counter mainly for financial transactions such as dog licensing or paying fines. Another counter, on the second floor, helps residents with varying needs.
“We amalgamated services out of four areas all into city hall now. The counters are much more multi purpose,” said Lalonde.
While it’s open for business, there are still finishing touches taking place.
For residents that mistakenly go to the old city hall, there is still a service counter open that can take care of most requests.
A grand public opening event will take place on April 26th in conjunction with the City’s Party for the Planet festival.
The new city hall is a key element of the Build City Centre Strategy, which includes a number of significant projects such as the City Centre Library, SFU and 3 Civic Plaza, still under construction at City Parkway and 104th Avenue.
It will feature a 144 room hotel, condominium units, commercial spaces and a 50 storey office tower, which will be Surrey’s tallest building and the fifth tallest in the lower mainland. Its construction is expected to be complete in early 2016.