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City hall to poke hole in roof to fix elevator

Sep 08 2012
Installation of a new elevator shaft will make the third floor of Victoria City Hall accessible to people with disabilities. 

Installation of a new elevator shaft will make the third floor of Victoria City Hall accessible to people with disabilities.

Photograph by: Darren Stone, Times Colonist , Times Colonist

With winter rains just around the corner, it would seem that punching a hole in the roof is the last thing you'd want to do.

But that's exactly what's planned at Victoria City Hall. An exact date hasn't been set yet, but workers will open a hole in the roof and use a crane to lift pieces of a new elevator shaft into position between Sept. 17 and 20.

John Sturdy, the city's acting director of engineering, said the work should be completed in one morning. One lane of Pandora Avenue will be closed while the work is done.

"It's big chunks of steel that they assemble into one long shaft," Sturdy said.

"They have to fit it in between the joists in the roof because they can't open up a big enough hole to drop it in as one piece. They drop it in sections and then they bolt it together inside."

The elevator will service the third floor - the old one only went to the second - and be more user-friendly for people with disabilities.

It's part of a $5.46-million project to modernize the building, which was built in five stages between 1878 and 1891, making it the oldest standing municipal hall in the province.

The renovation, which will not be completed until next year, is designed to make city hall more accessible and efficient, and to complete seismic work begun in 2002.

Changes include the new elevator, improved sprinklers and fire alarm systems, and removal of hazardous materials, such as asbestos and lead paint.

Work is currently focused on the second floor, Sturdy said.

As with a home renovation, working around construction can be challenging, but it was made possible by relocating city employees an entire floor at a time, Sturdy said.

Staff were first moved from the south side of the first floor. Renovations to the second floor began after all of the hazardous materials were removed, structural and seismic upgrades were completed and it was reconstructed to the point where it could be occupied. That work is still underway.

Sturdy said the project has gone well, but there have been a couple of surprises, including "when we were working down in the first level, we opened up a ceiling and found there was a joist that was just hanging there and not attached to anything," he said.

That explained why there had always been a bit of a slope in the corner of one room, he said.

"Those kinds of things we didn't know about and we had to take a little extra time to address."


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