Council settling back into Shire Hall and seat of municipal government

County of Prince Edward photo

After bivouacking at Highline Hall in Wellington for several months, a much brighter and modern Shire Hall is greeting councillors and constituents these days.

County Council returned to holding its meetings at Picton’s Shire Hall April 25, marking the official completion of a lengthy renovation project.

Built in 1874, Shire Hall had not seen any significant improvements since the early 1980’s. During a period of time, the chambers also served as a location for Ontario Superior Court of Justice trials and hearings. The Council Chambers were last updated in the late 1970’s and new upgrades to the Council Chambers will ensure the public has more and better opportunities to engage with Council.

The audio-visual system was upgraded significantly, including new presentation displays, improved sound system with acoustic panels throughout, and new cameras. Improved wireless internet in the Council Chamber will ensure hybrid meetings can function seamlessly, improving accessibility for the public to watch and/or participate remotely.

The project contractor used custom millwork to build the desks where Council sits. The original staircase was reworked to meet current building standards. Existing elements, such as the audience benches and chairs, were re-used and/or re-purposed wherever possible. Colours and textures were selected to signify the natural beauty of Prince Edward County, including blues to represent abundance of water, grays to represent sand and stone, and natural tones to represent woodland.

Click here for photographs, virtual tour and detailed description of the project

While the building was closed, upgrades were done to the rest of Shire Hall to refresh the space and also deal with building code and accessibility issues given the age of the building, including new flooring throughout, restoration of the original terrazzo in the building’s foyer, replacing the railing and adjusting the stair height, updated lighting, painting and re-configuring work spaces to meet today’s standards.

The renovation project was made possible in part by $159,339 in funding from the Government of Canada and $39,835 from the Government of Ontario as part of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) COVID-19 Resilience funding stream. The County used $60,000 from the Province of Ontario’s Municipal Modernization Fund to support technological upgrades in the Council Chamber. The County contributed $150,000 through the 2021 capital budget and the municipal reserves.

Shire Hall re-opened to the public on Tuesday, April 18. The building is open to the public Monday – Friday, 8.30 am to 5 pm for the following services: Customer Service, Finance/Tax Office. Clerk’s Office services — marriage licences, commissioner of oath, liquour and lottery licensing services — continue to be offered by appointment. Contact or call 613.476.2148 extension 1020 to make an appointment.

With improvements to the Chambers and building now complete, the municipality will turn its attention in future years to renovating the accessible entrance and washrooms on the main level of Shire Hall. Staff are seeking external funding sources before starting on that work.