The RM of Ritchot is looking to nearly double the size of its municipal office building in St. Adolphe.

Mayor Chris Ewen says there are a few components to the planned expansion. First of all, it will create additional office space, something he says is overdue.

"People are literally sitting on top of each other," says Ewen. "I don't think we can fully grasp unless you really walk in there every day into the office how tight it is in those spaces. They have shifted things around, they've moved cubicles. They are adding people."

According to Ewen, their office building is about 40 years old. He notes the original plans have an expansion package, recognizing the growth being felt in the municipality in the 1980s. Census data released earlier this month shows Ritchot has grown by 11.8 per cent since the previous Census. Ritchot now has 7,469 residents.

"We need more opportunities for services, we need more planning officers, we need more economic development growth, we need more recreation potential," notes Ewen. "So it's definitely due."

But, the expanded building is expected to benefit more than just office staff. Ewen says something he lobbied for, which received support from Council, is to make room for some new businesses or home-based businesses that might want to rent out some office space. At a subsidized rent rate, Ewen says a business would be given the opportunity to stay inside the municipal office for a year or two until they get their feet wet.

"Maybe somebody in their home wants to break out and display or showcase something that a Main Street consumer that's walking by will get to see through a glass window and go check out," notes Ewen. "So I'm really excited for that economic portion of the expansion."

The third component of this expansion is the creation of a market square, located between their existing building and the daycare to the north. Ewen says with the help of a grant, they hope to improve the site significantly, making it a permanent market square. These grounds could potentially be used for a live performance by a musician or for people to get together for a carnival or community event.

"This is something that will completely transform the Main Street of St. Adolphe which I'm very excited for," he adds.

Ewen says the cost of the entire project is up to $3 million, which will be fully funded through their general reserves. He notes their landfill produces between $500,000 and $1 million annually in profit, which is placed into general reserves in order to pay for projects like this one. As a result, this will not impact taxes. In fact, Ewen says they expect their reserve to be completely replenished in three to four years and a brand new facility paid in full.

Council has passed a resolution to continue on with this project. Because the money is coming from general reserves, it does not require a public hearing. However, Council has agreed that it would like to host an open house for the public to speak for or against. The matter will be voted on at their financial plan hearing, expected sometime in March.

Ewen says if all goes according to plan, he would like to begin construction in September, noting the project would probably then wrap in spring of next year.