Mayor Taylor tours fire-damaged city hall

Grand Forks Mayor Brian Taylor holds press release regarding city hall fire.

(From left) Dale Heriot

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Grand Forks Mayor Brian Taylor and City Administrative Officer Doug Allin flew back to town Thursday from the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference in Vancouver after learning of the fire at city hall. The two cancelled all their remaining meetings and hopped on the next available plane.

At approximately 4:30 p.m. Taylor held a brief press conference and then the two, along with Fire Chief Dale Heriot and RCMP Staff Sgt. Jim Harrison, along with a member of the RCMP’s arson investigation team, toured the building.

In his press conference, Taylor was quick to praise Grand Forks Fire Rescue for their strong work in containing the fire.

“The job done by the fire department was phenomenal,” said Taylor. “They put it out; they contained it. They used minimal water so we had less water damage. It looks like there was minimal damage to the archival material in the basement primarily due to how they fought the fire. They knocked it down without doing much damage inside which saved us an awful lot of money. The smoke damage upstairs is minimized. The structural damage to the building is minimal. The structural integrity of the building was not compromised.”

Taylor was shocked when he heard the news at 7 a.m. at his hotel room in Vancouver.

“I was half asleep when I got up and realized what was going on,” he said. “Shock and dismay. Obviously, people are very dismayed with this being such a historical building, an icon in the community.”

Taylor told the media that the city with work quickly to the building back up and running but notes that it will take some time.

“We want to move as quickly as we can to fix it up,” he said. “The community is really on a role. We’ve got a lot of good things going on. We have a number of initiatives from non-profit organizations. You look at the number of events we’ve had over the last few months ­– the last thing we want to do is slow down that kind of positive mood in the community.”

Taylor said it would a couple of months to get the building back at full shape. The mayor also stressed that the city would prefer to use local contractors as much as possible.

“Realistically, it will take a couple of months,” he said. “We’re going to have to hold council meetings in another location. We probably need another location for staff to work out of. Right now, the public works yard gives us some capacity to work out of, but that’s not going to be sufficient over time. We want to make sure people in Grand Forks can continue to pay bills and get information from city hall.”

A temporary city hall has been set up at the public works office at 130 Industrial Drive with access to remote online databases. A more permanent location is being sought and will be used until building renovations are complete. Other systems for residential and business services such as utility bill payments are being set up over the coming weeks as well.

City staff are available to handle inquiries in person at the new, temporary “city hall.”

The phone lines have been re-routed and you can also reach city staff at the same phone number: 250-442-8266.

A special council meeting is scheduled for Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. at the Grand Forks Senior’s Centre to discuss moving forward. The public is welcome to attend.

 

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