In our Municipal Hall addition, wood plays a major role both as a structural element and surface finish. The strength and versatility of wood is complemented by its beauty and warmth. As a former carpenter, I truly value the renewable nature of wood and the opportunities it provides for local companies in supply and installation. As Mayor, I'm happy that in this project we've been able to further promote a community culture of using wood—consistent with our Wood First policy.
The Municipal Hall for North Cowichan, B.C. is located on the west side of the Trans-Canada highway on a site shared with the municipal works yard and operations buildings. The parking lot to the south of the municipal hall that separated it from the other buildings, proved to be the ideal site for the new addition, enabling improvements to be made to vehicle circulation and permitting construction to take place in phases. The existing Municipal Hall is a two-storey structure that took advantage of the sloping site to achieve grade access from the adjacent parking lots to both the upper and lower floors.
The extensive and prominent use of wood both internally and externally was a conscious decision from the outset of this project. Wood has many advantages over other materials, including being a renewable resource, having a favourable strength to weight ratio, being familiar to local building trades, and offering the opportunity for prefabrication of building components. The structure is almost entirely made of wood. All of the new interior and exterior walls were constructed with wood framing and the main structure is comprised of glue laminated beams supported by steel columns.