Lucan Biddulph Council Approves Purchase of Property
On December 1, 2014 the Council in the Township of Lucan Biddulph unanimously approved the $2.96 million purchase of the newly rehabilitated Lucan Public School from a local business person. The building will house both the Municipal offices and the new Library.
Council has agreed to finance the project through a 25-year loan from Infrastructure Ontario. In addition, Lucan Biddulph will be taking advantage of the County of Middlesex program that will pay the interest on the first $1m for a period of 10 years. The current municipal office and former Public Works shop at 33351 Richmond Street has been declared surplus and will be sold.
Mayor Cathy Burghardt-Jesson stated that, “The purchase of this property will function to create a community hub in Lucan Biddulph. The new Municipal Office and Public Library as well as the Lucan Community Memorial Centre are ideally situated across the road from each other and will form a ‘Civic Centre’ that our community can take pride in.” The Mayor also commented that “…it reflects and will foster the continuing growth Lucan Biddulph is experiencing. The vision for the property is one that will meet the present and future needs of our community.”
This decision addresses a number of community needs which the Township has been working to solve over the last 24 months.
Expanded County Library Services
Over the last few years, funding changes have resulted in modifications to how employment and other services are delivered to residents in rural areas. County Libraries have been charged with meeting these needs for rural residents and in order to meet their expanded obligations, County libraries ideally require about 7,500 sq. ft. The current library occupies approximately 4000sq.ft.
The library plan, which is already in place in other communities, provides service in the rural areas in a cost effective and sustainable way, is multi-pronged and includes:
the Middlesex County Library as the keystone,
partnerships with organizations already involved in skills training and service and program delivery, and
a reliance on technology; the creation of a “technology hub”.
Rehabilitating the former school to meet the needs of residents seeking skills training and employment assistance will help ensure local access to resources for both employees and employers. It will be an economic development asset for the community and will enhance economic competitiveness and the long term viability of Lucan Biddulph.
The expanded library facility is possible due in large part to the support and partnerships with the County of Middlesex, the Middlesex County Library, LEADS Employment Services, Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC), and Community Employment Choices.
Need for New Municipal Office Space
The current Municipal office is located in the former Biddulph Township office built in 1984. One of the most pressing challenges with the current office is that it is non-compliant with new accessibility standards which are being phased in. In order to bring the building up to required standards, a significant capital expenditure would be required on the building which already has other limitations.
Simply put, the building is simply too small. The former Biddulph Township required space for 2.5 full-time employees. Today, 7 full-time and 2 part-time employees serve the amalgamated Township and are housed in spaces on the main floor and in the basement.
Second, because the employees now use the basement as a workspace means that Municipal records are not stored on site and cannot be easily accessed.
Third, public service areas are inadequate. The service counter, which is less than three feet in length, is too short to provide good service to residents, does not provide any degree of privacy to those being served and does not meet the accessibility standards mentioned earlier.
Last, hosting public meetings or delegations is difficult and often impossible given space constraints in Council Chambers.
Both the new Municipal offices and Public Library are part of a larger private community improvement project which includes a new Medical Centre and up to three, 3-storey, 23 unit Senior’s apartment buildings.