We need a City Hall, just not now, six West Kelowna candidates say

An artist's rendition of the proposed West Kelowna civic centre project is pictured in this contributed image. Voters turned down the $10.5 million project in a referendum
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/City of West Kelowna

WEST KELOWNA - If there’s one thing most West Kelowna candidates agree on, it’s the need for a proper City Hall.

What they don’t agree on is when and how to get it done.

We asked candidates this question: Does West Kelowna need a new City Hall this term? Or are you satisfied with portable trailers and splitting city staff into rented office space?

Here are key points from their answers, and at the bottom of the page you can see their full response.

Yes, in this term, if possible

Coun. Rusty Ensign in a screen shot from a West Kelowna council meeting.
Coun. Rusty Ensign in a screen shot from a West Kelowna council meeting.
Image Credit: City of West Kelowna

Rusty Ensign:  Yes we need a new city hall this term. We need to build it on our own land and only build it big enough for our own needs now. It should be designed so that it can be added on to in the future

Bryden Winsby: The sooner West Kelowna has a real City Hall, a civic centre, or whatever it is termed, the better. The existing facility, a converted community centre, has outgrown its usefulness, requiring continued use of aging portable structures and the leasing of space in a shopping plaza. Hardly an ideal situation.

No, it will have to wait until later
Doug Findlater:
The current arrangement of staff (excluding firefighters) working in 5 locations is inefficient and costly to taxpayers.  That being said the city can function and provide services to residents at an optimum level for now, however Council should continue to build capital reserves and look for land opportunities for a future city hall sometime in the next decade.

Rosalind Neis: We have a city hall, maybe not fancy enough or big enough for some, but we have one – We cannot afford to build a new city hall in the next four years unless on land we already own – we need roads, water and policing first.

Gord Milsom: The City’s administrative offices remain inadequate, although the lease of additional space at Lakeview Village will provide some temporary relief for much needed additional space. Due to capital expenditure commitments by the current City Council, it would be unwise to consider building new City administrative offices in the near term.

Gordon Wiebe: In the referendum held two years ago, West Kelowna residents voted against the construction of the proposed City Hall. That must be respected. There won’t be a new city hall built anytime soon.

Carol Zanon: At this time, a new city hall is in the capital plan for 2027, nine years from now. I must respect the voters' decision not to borrow funds for the construction of a new city hall. That is democracy. As a consequence, we have additional costs and inefficiencies for rented space and leasehold improvements to house our staff. It is concerning to see city employees having to dash between these temporary offices and the main building. Last winter I saw a worker fall on the ice in the parking lot as she ran from one to the other. No one wants these conditions to last indefinitely.

Jayson Zilkie: West Kelowna is in need of a new City Hall. I am not convinced that it needs to be completed in this current term. I believe there needs to be more transparency and a plan that residents can support, agree upon and ultimately have a say in

Unclear as to when

Jason Friesen: West Kelowna does need a new City Hall. The current facilities are not adequate. We need to have a facility that we, as a City, can be proud of.
Mary Mandarino: If elected mayor I would pursue the building of a Maintenance Building with extra municipal offices.
Winston Wammer: Obviously, we can’t change everything overnight, but we need to consider a facility that suits the needs of the citizens, the city and the staff. What kind of City Hall do we need?

These candidates did not respond.
Philip Akins
Jerome Chung
Rick de Jong
Brad Dobbin
Joe Gluska
Stephen Johnston
Tiffany Pare

— Editor's note: This post was updated at 2:04 p.m. Oct. 18 to correct our error in answers from Jason Friesen. 

Full Responses

Rusty Ensign: Yes we need a new city hall this term. We need to build it on our own land and only build it big enough for our own needs now. It should be designed so that it can be added on to in the future. Currently, having staff working out of portables and three other locations is not productive. It makes it difficult to retain and attract good employees. Renting space is money that can be invested in a new city hall. Reserves for a new city hall are at $3,200,000 with $780,000 being added every year. A fiscally prudent plan can be brought to the electorate with no tax increase, no 3P, on land we own and that is not too grandiose. For those of you that remember the current city hall was a community hall. There is money in reserves to restore it to its original intended use. A use that is much needed in our community.
Doug Findlater: The current arrangement of staff (excluding firefighters) working in 5 locations is inefficient and costly to taxpayers.  That being said the city can function and provide services to residents at an optimum level for now, however Council should continue to build capital reserves and look for land opportunities for a future city hall sometime in the next decade.
Jason Friesen: West Kelowna does need a new City Hall, although the timing of this additional cost would require much consideration and evaluation. The current facilities are not adequate, splitting city staff between two different locations does not promote a healthy work environment, and we need to have a facility that we, as a City can be proud of. It does, however, need to be located in a strategic location that will support existing businesses and promote future development. I would envision that the new City Hall be an anchor tenant in the West Kelowna town centre area. Investing in this area ourselves would show our commitment to revitalization of the downtown core area and promote other investment in the area. We need to be creative and innovative in coming up with the best solution so that we do not place undue and increased burdens on our taxpayers.
Mary Mandarino: If elected mayor I would pursue the building of a Maintenance Building with extra municipal offices.
Gord Milsom: The City’s administrative offices remain inadequate, although the lease of additional space at Lakeview Village will provide some temporary relief for much needed additional space. Due to capital expenditure commitments by the current City Council, it would be unwise to consider building new City administrative offices in the near term.
Rosalind Neis: We have a city hall, maybe not fancy enough or big enough for some, but we have one – We cannot afford to build a new city hall in the next four years unless on land we already own – we need roads, water and policing first.
Winston Wammer: Obviously, we can’t change everything overnight, but we need to consider a facility that suits the needs of the citizens, the city and the staff. What kind of City Hall do we need?
Gordon Wiebe: In the referendum held two years ago, West Kelowna residents voted against the construction of the proposed City Hall. That must be respected. There won’t be a new city hall built anytime soon. Staff and Council will need to find or build commercial office/administrative space.
Bryden Winsby: The sooner West Kelowna has a real City Hall, a civic centre, or whatever it is termed, the better. The existing facility, a converted community centre, has outgrown its usefulness, requiring continued use of aging portable structures and the leasing of space in a shopping plaza. Hardly an ideal situation. Penny wise and pound foolish. Contrary to what some might believe, we do not have a bloated bureaucracy or other staffing that is superfluous to our needs. In fact, the number of employees compares very well to other cities of similar size.
Providing a City Hall during the next four years won’t be easy. We must find a suitable location. Our preference to this point has been Westbank Centre, in order to help give that area an economic boost, but we must be open to changing this priority. The city owns very little land — anywhere — and that which might become available will not be cheap. Some have suggested that the Crown land we acquired at Bartley and Stevens Road could be used, but that’s not reasonable. It is located in an industrial area and we have determined that its best use would be for public works and a fire department training facility.
As for the cost of building a City Hall, we have been putting money aside for that purpose and for converting the existing location back to its original use.
Inevitably, there will be a cost to taxpayers for a new City Hall, but be assured that we have never intended it to be a palace. It must be functional, aesthetically pleasing and capable of performing its very important functions for decades, with minimal additions or alterations.
Carol Zanon: At this time, a new city hall is in the capital plan for 2027, nine years from now. I must respect the voters' decision not to borrow funds for the construction of a new city hall. That is democracy. As a consequence, we have additional costs and inefficiencies for rented space and leasehold improvements to house our staff. It is concerning to see city employees having to dash between these temporary offices and the main building. Last winter I saw a worker fall on the ice in the parking lot as she ran from one to the other. No one wants these conditions to last indefinitely.
Jayson Zilkie: West Kelowna is in need of a new City Hall. I would say most people can agree with that. I am not convinced that it needs to be completed in this current term. I believe there needs to be more transparency and a plan that residents can support, agree upon and ultimately have a say in. I believe splitting city staff is not a long-term solution. Many businesses can and do operate in separate locations and are very successful at doing that. Having staff in one centralized location is the long term solution, but until the facility allows it, a compromise must be met and that includes staff working at other locations.

 


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