Grand Forks Mayor Brian Taylor and City Administrative Officer Doug Allin flew back to town last Thursday (Sept. 19) 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.
Later that day, following a brief press conference, the two, along with Fire Chief Dale Heriot, RCMP Staff Sgt. Jim Harrison and 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.”
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.
The City of Grand Forks held a special council meeting on Monday at the Senior Centre in City Park to discuss how they would conduct business after the fire at city hall. Mayor Brian Taylor and all of council were in attendance, as well as several city staff members and about 20 residents.
Allin said he expects the whole process of rebuilding the building will take from three to six months, although it is hard to gauge.
He also stressed that the city’s insurance coverage would cover all the relocation costs as well as public relations/ advertising to let residents know any pertinent information.
Mayor Taylor sounded upbeat about the meeting. “I think we had a reasonable turnout given the limited notice. I’m glad there were some people that were here and were able to ask questions. It didn’t really go on too long in terms of the discussion of the damage. I think more people wanted to know about the guy who did it. But I think Staff Sgt. Harrison’s comments about the ongoing investigation was respected and people didn’t get into it too much.”