Future projects for Kelowna come with $523 million price tag - InfoNews

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Future projects for Kelowna come with $523 million price tag

May 14, 2013 - 7:46 AM

Projects totalling $523 million are looming on the city's eight year capital plan and councillors are questioning where the money will come from.

Some funding is expected from government grants and development cost charges, but the rest will have to be borrowed or collected from taxpayers.

While the capital plan sources $93 million from borrowing and $133 million from taxation, city councillors agreed Kelowna residents won't be willing to shoulder the cost.

"I don't think the general taxpayer has an endless amount of money they're prepared to pay,” says Coun. Luke Stack. Getting provincial and federal government funding will prove critical, he says.

"We don't have capacity for all the things the citizens of our city are coming to expect."

Kelowna's 2013 capital plan was presented to city council yesterday by Assests and Investments manager Joel Shaw. The plan details where the city will be spending money in the coming years. The biggest expenses taking priority are the $50 million extension of Highway 33, the new RCMP headquarters, the Library and Ellis Street parkades, upgrades to Lakeshore Road and bridge, as well as Parkinson Recreation Centre.

Within that list, councillors singled out the new Kelowna RCMP building for its weighty taxation demands. Coun. Andre Blanleil says he's not comfortable with hiking taxes to pay for the building.

"It's a huge impact the public needs to be aware is coming," he says.

Coun. Blanleil also noted the project will have an inter-generational impact, taking on long-term debt in exchange for long-term benefits to the community.

"It's an asset that will last for a long time," he says.

The capital plan anticipates the city will start borrowing for the new detachment by 2016.

While city councillors agreed to endorse the plan yesterday afternoon, Mayor Walter Gray emphasized it will be a treated as a fluid document.

"The numbers have to work out in terms of affordability for the public," he says.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Julie Whittet at jwhittet@infotelnews.ca or call (250)718-0428.


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