Councillor says Metrobus upgrades won’t affect market plans

Bonnie Belec
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Part of the restructuring at

St. John’s City Hall will pump new life into the outdated Metrobus building on Freshwater Road.

Coun. Tom Hann told The Telegram Friday new offices have to be prepared at city hall as part of the restructuring, and in the short term, staff will have to be relocated in order for that process to be completed.

They’ll be housed at the depot temporarily, he said, but it will not have any affect on the possibility of the St. John’s Farmers’ Market making the depot its new home.

The city is working with the

St. John's Farmers’ Market Co-op to look at finding a new venue, as it has outgrown its site at the Lions Club Chalet on Bonaventure Avenue.

“Absolutely not,” said Hann when asked if it would affect the working group. “The study is underway as we speak. We hope to have it in the fall, which will identify whether or not part of the garage is the ideal spot and it will outline what we need to do.”

The reorganization at city hall, which has been on the go for several months by senior staff and city manager Bob Smart, will see the creation of a new senior management administrative team — five deputy managers led by Smart.

The initial setup cost will be about $600,000 and an increase of $8,000 annually for the new team. It will now cost the city $2 million in salaries for 14 senior managers.

A document Smart released to the media Thursday — during a news conference prompted by media reports about the resignation of one of its senior staff because of the restructuring — said about $200,000 of the initial cost will be used to renovate the current Metrobus offices to make them accessible.

“A physical relocation plan has been developed and will be implemented over the next number of months,” states the council memo written by Smart.

“Due to the fact there is a need for swing space, there must be vacant space available initially in order to begin the relocation process. The process will begin with the availability of the former Metrobus building.”

The new Metrobus depot is on Messenger Drive off Kelsey Drive behind Walmart.

The 116,000-square-foot building’s opening has been delayed as a result of demand for labour last year, and is now waiting for the last pieces of equipment to be installed.

Hann, who represents city council on the St. John’s Transportation Commission which oversees Metrobus, said Friday it’s only a matter of weeks before the $34-million project is ready to roll.

“The building is old. That’s the reason why we’re moving into a new depot. It’s not functional to operate a transit system that’s expanding.

“But in order to put interim people in there we’ll have to do some renovations to the office and one of the major things is making it accessible,” he said.

“The total is $197,000, but we should remember that once this swing space is utilized and renovations are done at city hall, we are going to use that space anyway.

“There is tonnes of space in the parking garage. We can use it for the maintenance department to store stuff and so on.”

He said when all is said and done, there may be some permanent offices there as well, but it won’t interfere with the farmers’ market.

“There is lots of room there and I think it is the ideal spot. It has everything we need —  space, green space, parking and is on a bus route.

bbelec@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Market Co-op, Lions Club Chalet, Transportation Commission

Geographic location: St. John's, Bonaventure Avenue

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  • Bill
    August 17, 2013 - 15:27

    $200,000 for an elevator in a defunct building. Now we know why the current Council needs to be replaced.