News

Kelowna council urges voters not to oppose borrowing millions for new cop shop

Kelowna is ready to borrow $42.4 million to pay for a new police building. And it hopes the public is ready to let it do so.

On Monday, city council approved a plan to put the borrowing proposal to what is known as the alternative approval process, where the onus is put on opponents to the proposal to fill out official petition forms and return them the city clerks office at City Hall if they are against the city proceeding.

If 10 per cent of eligible voters (9,484) object and fill out forms correctly, the city will either have to kill the project or put it to a referendum vote. The city says it is saving $60,000 by not holding a referendum on the borrowing.

In the past, when the city has used the AAP to borrow money, the number of opponents filing out forms has bee, relatively small.

Opponents will have five weeks to register their opposition. Forms can be picked up at City Hall or the Parkinson Recreation Centre and must be returned by close of business March 28.

Prior to the deadline, the city will hold two open houses, Match 6 and 10 to explain the project to the public. The open house are slated for the Royal Anne Hotel and will run from 3:30 p.m. to 6 :30 p.m. each day

On Monday, city councillors urged voters not to oppose the borrowing.

"Borrowing is the only way to go," said Coun. Andre Blanliel.

"It's better to borrow the money than to take it out of taxation."

Calling a new police building a necessity for the city, not an "extra," he said the existing police building on Doyle Avenue, parts of which dates back to the 1960s, has come to end of its useful life as the city's public safety centre.

And, he added, if Kelowna does not built a new police building, the RCMP could do so and charge the city back the cost. That, he said, would give the city no control over the project or its cost.

On the city's website, it says it is using the AAP because it has to build a new building to house the RCMP and wants to manage the process itself.

Borrowing the money would create what Blanleil called intergenerational borrowing, spreading the cost out over future generations that will benefit from the new facility.

The new building is slated for city owned land on Clement Avenue. It would replace the exiting Doyle Avenue building which has had two major additions and renovations over the years, as well as other minor work. That building is said to be too small, too old and not suitable for expansion, retrofit or retention as the city's public safety nerve centre.

If the borrowing is not opposed by a sufficient number of city voters, the project could start later this year with construction commencing next year and completion slated for 2017.

The cost to taxpayers of borrowing the money would be approximately $40 per household per year over 30 years  starting after 2017.

 

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