Despite pandemic, West Kelowna intends to borrow $11 million for first City Hall | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Despite pandemic, West Kelowna intends to borrow $11 million for first City Hall

West Kelowna Mayor Gord Milsom is on board with borrowing up to $11 million for the city's first city hall.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Facebook
October 05, 2020 - 5:30 PM

Citing a strong financial position despite COVID-19, West Kelowna council is set to finalize its efforts to build the city’s first city hall.

Since the residents of West Kelowna turned down the project in a 2016 referendum, the city has put aside $700,000 a year towards the cost of the building.

In February, council passed the first three readings of a bylaw that would allow it to borrow up to $11 million towards the project without another referendum. Staff will recommend final adoption at a special council meeting tomorrow, Oct. 6, even though it does not appear on the agenda posted online.

READ MORE: West Kelowna revives $18 million City Hall plan — without voters

“The City Hall project remained a low priority during COVID-19 to ensure staffs’ focus remained on the Rose Valley Water Treatment Plant,” an update on the city’s website states. ”Despite the impacts of COVID-19, the City remains on strong financial ground with its revenues, reserves and development cost charges to advance long overdue infrastructure across the City.”

At about the same time, an online petition called for the project to be killed. It was to be delivered to city hall in June and as of today, shows 320 signed.

READ MORE: West Kelowna parked its plans for a new City Hall before online petition launched

The city hall reserve fund is expected to reach $7 million by 2022 when the city’s first city hall is expected to open.

Combined with the $11 million loan the project could cost $18 million.

There will be no tax increase because of the new borrowing as the existing $700,000 annual contribution will go towards the loan repayment.

Once the loan is secured, design work can begin. The city is already looking for land, likely in either Westbank or the Mt. Boucherie town centre.

It also notes that, if 14 people had voted differently in the 2016 referendum, a new city hall would have been open by now.

READ MORE: Referendum results confirmed in West Kelowna city hall vote

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