You can get a peek inside Rossland Yards at 1920 Third Ave. on Friday as the new multi-use complex hosts its grand opening starting at 1 p.m.
The project, which has been in the works for several years, combines a new city hall on the ground floor with labour force housing on the upper storeys.
Mayor Andy Morel noted council held its first meeting in the building on Monday.
“It feels great. It’s a wonderful space,” he said. “The acoustics are great and it’s great for the gallery as well. There is so much more space than the old city hall. Staff seem very pleased with their office spaces and it’s starting to feel like their home away from home.”
The city was forced to move out of the old city hall on Columbia Avenue in 2018 following a partial roof collapse. It has since been functioning from a temporary space on Leroi Avenue while council meetings have been held at the Miners’ Hall.
Although the new council chambers is smaller than the hall, Morel said the latter wasn’t a great spot to hold meetings due to the acoustics. The new chamber uses modular furniture that can be moved around. The space expected to be made available to the public for meetings.
Morel said the building was designed with accessibility in mind. It will also afford more privacy for people who come to see city staff and can meet in individual offices.
For the first time in years, there’s also a mayor’s office. “I have a little cubicle that I need to set up,” Morel said.
While some minor things will still need to be completed over the next few months, Morel said the building is mostly finished.
“Folks are welcome to come and take a look. I hope Rossland residents recognize it’s a community building. We’re open for business.”
Meanwhile, on the housing end Lower Columbia Affordable Housing Society president Jan Morton said her organization is “pretty thrilled.”
“It’s been a long process from the date we first received indication of funding to today, but it’s pretty exciting that building is there. It’s going to be of tremendous value to the community. And it’s attractive to boot.”
Morton said the 37-unit housing component is a mix of a two and three-bedroom suites that will ultimately house 80 to 100 people, but occupancy is only about 50 per cent right now. She said that is not surprising given residents must meet “fairly steep” criteria.
“It’s very much focused on people in the workforce in Rossland as the primary tenants,” she said. “There are other limitations and qualifications as well.”
While getting to full tenancy has been a slower process than expected, she said their projection is that all the units will be spoken for by the end of March.
Friday’s grand opening, which will include dignitaries like MLA Katrine Conroy and Columbia Basin Trust CEO Johnny Strilaeff, will be followed later that afternoon by a sod-turning for a similar housing project in Fruitvale.
“Talk about a busy organization,” Morton said. “As a housing society, we’re working hard to bring more affordable housing into the community. It’s never enough, but every one is one more.”