When silver was discovered in the West Kootenay in 1891, thousands of fortune-seekers swarmed to the area. The community of Kaslo formed and bloomed, and was incorporated in 1893. Five years later, it erected an impressive city hall.

Add 120 years and the building still stands—but is showing its age. To preserve this National Historic Site, the only so-designated municipal building in the province’s interior, the Village of Kaslo is renovating city hall with help from Columbia Basin Trust.

“The heritage buildings of Kaslo are important to its identity, the tourism industry and its residents,” said Neil Smith, the Village’s Chief Administrative Officer. As for city hall, “If we didn’t do something soon, we were going to end up losing it.”

While renovations began about seven years ago, they revealed additional problems—such severe ones that the municipal offices were forced to move across the street. Although the Village had already finished renovations like weather-proofing the exterior and adding a geothermal heating system, it has now secured enough funds to complete the entire project.

While using money from the Union of BC Municipalities’ Gas Tax Community Works Fund to renovate the municipal office floor, it is using funds from the Trust to refurbish the top floor: an impressive former courtroom with high ceilings and intricate plasterwork.

“There’s really nothing much like it in the region,” says Smith. “It’s an amazing space.” Once complete, this floor will be available to the community for activities like exhibitions and small gatherings.

The goal is to move back into the building by August 14, 2018: the community’s 125th anniversary of incorporation. Finally, Smith says, city hall will again be, “Fulfilling its full potential.”

“It will be the civic heart of the community restored to its former glory.”