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Budget squeeze won't stop construction crush

Site of RCMP service building at Clement Ave. and Richter St.
January 13, 2015 - 5:37 PM

KELOWNA —  The new $48-million RCMP police services building is casting a large shadow over this year’s municipal budget, with staff warning of the possible chilling effect on other capital projects. But don’t expect the the seemingly endless parade of construction projects over the last few years to let up much, at least if Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran has his way.

“We’re still doing what we can to find partnerships and leverage our dollars. The federal government has committed to the Building Canada fund,” says Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran. “There’s been so much happening in the last few years in our city. This is an opportunity to catch our breath here and look at our priorities over the coming three years.”

He termed the police building as “once in a lifetime” comparing it to the H20 recreation centre in the Mission, and one most city councillors will never have to deal with. Taxpayers beging paying for it this year and it's taking up almost half the proposed 3.47 per cent tax increase. Supporting it is a no-brainer as protective services continually tops the list of concerns put forth to city hall in annual citizen surveys and the RCMP has suffered for years in an old building that's too small for its needs.

“It wouldn’t matter anyway,” Basran adds. “If we weren’t moving forward the federal government would build the facility for us and send us the bill. They have that power. This way we have some control over how it’s spent.”

Basran said no existing major priority projects will be displaced by the police building but he and other councillors can all point to smaller projects they like but that may sit idle for a while longer.

“Centennial Park in Rutland is one. There is  $400,000 allocated for an upgrade but that only brings the field up to standard,” he says. “I would love to see more money put into that.”

The newly elected council hopes to move ahead in as many areas as feasible without threatening financial stability.

“We want to get things done, no question,” he says, comparing their situation to that of a homeowner who must maintain his house.

“You might have problems with the roof and the furnace and the windows. But you wouldn’t do all those repairs on everything at once.”

To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at jmcdonald@infotelnews.ca or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email mjones@infotelnews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

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