KELOWNA - City Council heard a report Monday that outlined details of the proposed Kelowna Police Services Building project and voted unanimously to take the plan to the public.
Infrastructure Division Director for the City of Kelowna John Vos and project manager Kevin Van Vliet brought forth their strategy for the $46-million building that will sit at the corner of Clement and Richter.
The current building was constructed 51 years ago, and falls short of provincial standards, according to Van Vliet.
“We’ve looked at things in a great level of detail,” Van Vliet said. “We want to ensure that we have an effective and efficient policing service.”
Planning for the 90,000 sq. ft. building began in 2011 and now that council has approved the initial plans, the next step is to seek public approval.
The project would require a 30-year loan for $42,284,000, an amount council feels is fair given the scope of the plans.
“The dollar amount of the project is certainly not small, but the community needs to understand that there are a lot of costs in here that are important to make sure that this facility can operate properly in the long term,” said Van Vliet. “Most buildings are designed so that you can get out of them (during a disaster), they don’t necessarily have to operate afterwards. That adds structural costs.”
Mayor Gray called it a “huge project”, however council confirmed the scope of the project and the method of gaining electoral approval for the necessary project funding.
“The tour that we as a council had two weeks ago was very impactful and for me left no doubt that this is a top priority for our city,” said Coun. Colin Basran. “The current facility is unacceptable.”
Now that initial plans have been approved, the next step is to seek electoral consent to borrow more than $42 million from Kelowna and area taxpayers and another $6 million from reserves. By the end of the project that would amount to about $41 per year for an average household.
“We’ll be paying this bill for a very long time to come,” said Coun. Mohini Singh. “But $41 per household isn’t that much to pay for the safety of our city.”
A significant driver of the cost is the 29 cells incorporated into the design. At around $200,000 per cell, that would account for roughly 20 per cent of the building costs.
“The square footage that we’re asking for is very practical,” said Van Vliet. “We are designing an effective building for now and of course, the near future.”
Councillors Gerry Zimmermann and Robert Hobson called the report “very thorough” and agreed that the current building does not meet the needs of a growing city.
“I don’t think anything is a higher priority than what we’re asking for here,” Coun. Zimmermann said. “I know it’s a lot of money but it’s long overdue.”
To contact the reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw at email@example.com, call (250) 718-0428 or tweet @AdamProskiw.