KELOWNA - Approval for the city to borrow more than $42 million for a new police services building is now in the hands of the voters.
Council approved the alternative approval process Monday, paving the way for residents to voice their concerns over the proposed 90,000 sq. ft. building that will replace the current, 52-year-old detachment building on Doyle Ave. with a larger, more modern building on Clement Ave.
Several councillors voiced their approval for the building, including Counc. Andre Blanleil, who says the current building is too old to be effective.
“I think it’s important to realize our police station today is well past its useable period,” says Blanleil. “I’m never one to spend a lot of money but in this case I don’t think we have an option.”
He says that the RCMP, in reality, does not need municipal approval and that because of a Municipal Policing Agreement, the City of Kelowna is required to provide adequate accommodations for the RCMP to perform their work within national policing standards. If approval is not granted from the voters or from council, RCMP can petition the provincial government to force the city to loan them the money.
“The public has to realize that the RCMP themselves can go to the province and ask to have it built without our approval,” Blanleil says. “Then we don’t control the budget, we don’t control the costs.”
In order to halt approval of the loan, council needs to receive approximately 940 signatures, or 10 per cent of eligible voters, before 4 p.m. on March 28.
This project, if approved, will include the design and construction of a new Police Services Building, necessary roadway and intersection improvements on Clement Avenue and Richter Street, parking lot provision, landscaping and required off-site utility servicing.
Construction of the new building would likely begin in 2015, with completion expected sometime late 2017.
The funding strategy proposes the City secure a municipal loan for up to $42,384,000 from the Municipal Finance Authority of B.C., amortized over 30 years, with another $5.6 million to come from reserve funds and other outside funding sources. The increase would add approximately $40 to the property tax of an average house.
Two open houses will take place March 6 and 10, where residents can find out more details and approach the city with their concerns. The open houses will take place from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Royal Anne Hotel
For more information on the proposed new facility, visit this website.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw at email@example.com, call (250) 718-0428 or tweet @AdamProskiw.