Division to have new office by January

The Horizon School Division will soon move into a new $5.5 million central office that it owns outright and that will house their entire operation under one roof.

At this point in time, the division leases the bottom floor of the Olymel building and has some of its central office function in a quonset across the highway. Kevin Garinger, the division's director of education, said the lease went from January 2014 to February 2019.

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“We met with Olymel and their leadership and their space that they have upstairs, they’re crammed in up there,” he said. “Their operation has expanded and this, being their Western Canadian Headquarters, they need the space on the bottom floor.”

The quonset isn’t roomy enough to house all of the staff.

“We’d be looking for additional space regardless and we’d have to continue to pay lease fees unless we moved ahead and did something to have a building we’d own and operate.”

So with money the division saved up, most of it coming from when Horizon was created back in 2006, they decided to build a new 18,000 square foot office on the same four-acre lot the quonset’s located. The building is being designed and built by the same contractor, which Garinger said could save the division money and provides enough flexibility for design changes during construction.

The division spends $115,000 per year in lease payments, plus additional rental costs when there’s a requirement for larger meetings that can’t go into one of the division's schools. The new building will be a capital asset for the division and will have enough space for those larger meetings.

Harder to nail down are savings coming from a more efficient central office.

“It’s certainly significant when you take into account the time it takes to operate a central office when you’re in two buildings,” Garinger said.

The building will be ready for inspection in mid-December. Once that hurdle’s complete, the division will start moving into the new office, bringing its older but still good furniture with them. The goal is to be fully operational when students return to school from the holidays Jan. 7.

The old quonset will be tendered out, with the winner having to move it off site. The space it takes will them become a parking lot. Landscaping for the new office will be done in the spring.

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