West Kelowna council has given the go-ahead today for staff to finalize the construction contract between the City of West Kelowna and Strategic BC Investments Inc. to construct a 32,215 square feet municipal hall.
Final endorsement of the project will be subject to approval from taxpayers via the Alternative Approval Process to sign off on the borrowing of up to $10.5 million by the city as part of its contribution to the project.
“The Civic Centre project has been a key focus of council’s attention since 2013 and, after a great deal of hard work by a number of people, we are very pleased with the proposal that we are presenting for consideration by West Kelowna taxpayers,” said West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater.
“From the beginning, council has wanted to invest in much more than just a city hall. We wanted to put our money where our mouths are and kick start revitalization with our investment and we believe we will do exactly that with the West Kelowna Civic Centre project.”
The West Kelowna Civic Centre Project is a public-private partnership involving privately-owned land at 3641 Elliott Rd.
Ownership of all land associated with the new city hall will be transferred to the City of West Kelowna once all construction agreements have been finalized. Strategic BC Investments Inc. has proposed to build an office building and two residential buildings as well as a public plaza as its contribution to the project.
In December 2015, council announced that Interior Health has agreed to locate its services within the office building, contingent on West Kelowna voter approval of borrowing for the City Hall portion of the project.
The economic benefits to West Kelowna’s downtown stemming from the construction of a new city hall and the other elements of the West Kelowna Civic Centre are estimated at $49.13 million for the estimated $31.9 million construction project, according to the city. Benefits from direct and indirect jobs will also come and the project meets many of the goals of the Westbank Centre Revitalization Plan.
“The vision council had is within our reach and we are particularly excited about the prospect that we will not only have more people living and working in West Kelowna’s downtown, but there will be centralized health services with room to grow, meeting another of our community’s long-time wishes,” said Findlater.
“We have also been able to secure within our current financial plan the repayment of the city hall debt, meaning this investment will not result in any additional property tax increases over what we have been estimating for years, another key element to council’s plan.”
City staff will now prepare the borrowing bylaw which will be presented to council at an upcoming meeting and, once adopted, the bylaw will need to be approved by the B.C. Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development before timelines can be applied for the AAP ballot timeline.