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How this former West Kelowna MLA plans to vote in upcoming city hall referendum

Former Liberal MLA Ben Stewart is seen casting his vote, July 03, 2013, in the Westside-Kelowna byelection in this file photo. Stewart has endorsed the borrowing of more than $7 million from West Kelowna taxpayers to pay for a new civic centre.
Image Credit: FILE PHOTO
September 13, 2016 - 2:33 PM

KELOWNA – The former MLA who gave up his seat for Christy Clark has released an endorsement for a new City Hall in West Kelowna.

Ben Stewart represented Westside-Kelowna from 2009 to 2013. A member of Premier Christy Clark’s cabinet, he agreed to resign his seat to ensure Clark had a required spot in the provincial legislature after she was defeated in her own Vancouver-Point Grey riding. Stewart owns the Quails' Gate Estate Winery in West Kelowna.

According to a letter attributed to him by the Yes for West Kelowna Civic Centre Facebook page, the long-time West Kelowna resident calls the proposed civic centre on Elliott Road “critical community infrastructure.”

“Recently our elected municipal council made a conscious decision to build a new City Hall as West Kelowna had out grown it’s temporary space at the Mount Boucherie complex,” he writes. “As a community that I have watched growing up over the past 50-plus years this is another opportunity to continue to be proud of our past and grow our community with a revitalized downtown with well thought out long term view towards positive growth.”

Earlier this year Council gave staff permission to finalize the construction contract with Strategic B.C. Investments Inc. for a 32,215-square-foot city hall, along with office spaces, two residential buildings and a public plaza. The projected cost for the project is just under $32 million, with up to $10.5 million coming from taxpayers, upon their approval.

A rendering of what the new West Kelowna Civic Hall might look like.
A rendering of what the new West Kelowna Civic Hall might look like.
Image Credit: Contributed

Opposition to the project criticized council for using an alternative approval process requiring at least ten percent of the 26,000 West Kelowna voters register as opposed, and in May of this year, nearly 4,000 said they didn’t want to loan the money.

The amount was then lowered to $7.7 million, thanks to the application of a $1.5 million surplus from 2015 and $308,000 from the city yards reserve fund, and the referendum was set for Sep. 17.

In Stewarts letter, released Sep. 13, he commends West Kelowna city council and staff for their use of a Public-Private-Partnership model.

“The province of B.C. has developed and leads North America in the use of P3s to attract highest and best value for the taxpayers,” he says. “Three outstanding local examples are the W.R. Bennett Bridge, Kelowna General Hospital’s Centennial building and the new Southern Interior Heart and Surgical Building.”

“Please support your community with a positive vote to move West Kelowna another step closer to one seamless community," he says.

You can see the entire endorsement on the Yes For West Kelowna Civic Centre Facebook page.


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