Kelowna will use its controversial reverse option billing process to try and gain the approval of residents to borrow millions of dollars for a large new $46-million RCMP detachment building.
The process, formerly known as the alternate approval process, puts the onus on residents to oppose the city borrowing money for a project rather than asking them to approve it. An estimated 10,000 signatures will have to be gathered by opponents in the span of a-month once the AAP is set in motion. City officials expect that to take place later this year.
If the required number of signatures are collected, the city will either have to hold a referendum on the issue or scrap the project.
On Monday, council approved spending $200,000 to design the new building, which parks and public places manager Terry Barton said would be three to four-storeys tall and 86,000-square-feet in size.
He told council planning for the facility is now complete and the city is ready to move into the design phase.
Council carried over $625,000 for the project in this year’s municipal budget in an expectation of moving forward with the project.
The new building is to be built on land the city bought on Clement Avenue, between St. Paul and Richter, several years ago with the express desire use it for a new RCMP building.
Unlike other government buildings, RCMP detachments have to be paid for entirely by the municipality that house them and the the city has been working on plans for a replacement of the existing Doyle Avenue RCMP detachment for several months.
“This is a staggering amount of money for our community over the next 10 years,” said Coun. Andre Blanleil, who said he is concerned the city does not have enough say over how it is to be built. But city managerRon Mattiussi said there are many areas where the city does have say.
But he noted because there are security issues with the building, there are areas where the city has to construct it to the wishes of the RCMP.
Meanwhile, the fate of the site of the existing Doyle Avenue RCMP detachment is still up in the air.
Barton said it is being replaced because it is aging, functionally obsolete and too small. It also cannot be retrofitted.
He said some of the site may be set aside for a future expansion of the Kelowna Community Theatre and for an extension of the Art Walkway that connects the Library Parkade to the Rotary Centre For The Arts. Opportunities exist to develop other, smaller parts of the site closer to the library, he added.