$6.3M Lambton Shores office ‘legacy to the future’

Mayor Doug Cook, left, and former mayor Bill Weber, right, cut the ribbon at the new Lambton Shores administration building Thursday.

The pony has been put out to pasture in Lambton Shores.

‘The pony’ is what administrators in the municipality – the envelope which carried documents from Forest to Northville to Grand Bend by employees travelling the municipality – has been an important communication device for the past 23 years .

The pony was retired last week when the 26 Lambton Shores employees moved into the new $6.3 million, net zero municipal centre on Port Franks Road in Northville.

CAO Stephen McAuley, Lambton Shores Mayor Doug Cook and former mayor Bill Weber told about 80 people gathered Thursday in front of the new building bringing all the employees together in one spot “where the public can find us” will be a good thing.

When Lambton Shores was formed in 2001 bringing Bosanquet, Forest, Arkona, Grand Bend and Thedford together, Weber says the municipality “started out very simple” adding for years council would meet in various community halls using folding tables as desks.

Weber said bringing employees together in one municipal office “was always in the back of our minds.”

“This is a legacy to the future of Lambton Shores.”

Cook says it is important step for the municipality and for taxpayers. Now, he says, residents will be able to go to one place to get all their questions answered instead of calling or driving all over the 332 square kilometre municipality . “Contractors don’t have to worry about going to a different office for answers…all the staff is in one place.”

Cook adds that will improve staff communication “having the same message delivered all at once.”

Many of the people taking a tour of the new building were interested to see the Net Zero Dashboard. A computer screen mounted on a wall outside of the new council chambers shows how much energy is being used by the building and how much it is producing with the solar panels on the roof. Thursday, the building was producing nearly triple the power it was using.

The administration building will also be able to operate during and after severe or extreme weather.

And the council chamber, which features a large circle of councillor and staff desks with a backdrop of stone walls, was designed with advanced technology to enhance livestreaming capabilities, says Alex Boughen, manager of licensing and communications.

The three administrative offices in Grand Bend, Forest and Northville are now closed. Cook says staff will be presenting council with ideas for future uses, including the possible sale of some of the buildings, in the coming weeks.