West Kelowna looks to build a combo City Hall and library | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna News

West Kelowna looks to build a combo City Hall and library

This version of a new West Kelowna City Hall was rejected by voters in 2016.
Image Credit: Contributed/City of West Kelowna

Not only is West Kelowna going to get its first City Hall in 2022, but if things go according to plan, they will also get a new library branch as well.

A report going to city council on Tuesday, Jan. 26, outlines a partnership where the Okanagan Regional Library will have a one-third equity in a new building to be constructed next the Johnson Bentley Memorial Aquatic Centre in West Kelowna.

The City will own the land but the library will own its part of the building.

“The City of West Kelowna and the Okanagan Regional Library together recognize the synergies in service delivery that help to strengthen our community,” the report reads.

This drawing shows how the new City Hall will fit next to the Johnson Bentley Memorial Aquatic Centre.
This drawing shows how the new City Hall will fit next to the Johnson Bentley Memorial Aquatic Centre.
Image Credit: Submitted/City of West Kelowna

City Hall needs 30,000 square feet on three floors with room to expand in the future. The library is looking at 15,000 square feet to replace its rented space when the lease in the Westridge Mall runs out in 2022. The report says the library has been there for 25 years and has outgrown the space.

This drawing shows the proposed building.
This drawing shows the proposed building.
Image Credit: Submitted/City of West Kelowna

Staff have also approached their local MLA Ben Stewart and MP Dan Albas about relocating their constituency offices to the site, making it a “civic centre.”

Council will be asked on Tuesday to approve a contract for almost $1 million for Johnston Davidson Architecture to design for the project.

The goal is to start site preparation work this spring so the building can be opened by the end of 2022.

The cost to the City is expected to remain at the $18 million forecast last year. That includes $7 million that has been building in a reserve fund over the past few years and $11 that will be borrowed.

READ MORE: West Kelowna's first city hall now just needs a location

West Kelowna incorporated in 2007 and civic services have been located in a number of rented premises since then.

In May of 2016, residents soundly rejected a proposal to borrow $10.5 million for a $14.5 million City Hall.

A second referendum was held that fall asking for $7.7 million. It was defeated by 27 votes out of more than 8,000 cast.

Leading up to the 2018 municipal election, the majority of those elected agreed the city needed a City Hall but not in the short term.

“I am not convinced that it needs to be completed in this current term,” Jayson Zilkie wrote in response to an iNFOnews.ca questionnaire at the time. “I believe there needs to be more transparency and a plan that residents can support, agree upon and ultimately have a say in.”

Because the City has been building reserve funds, they can now borrow the $11 million without having to go to the residents for approval.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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