New West Kelowna city hall a decade away?

Phasing construction of a new city hall now would be too expensive and not cost-effect says city's top bureaucrat.

The high cost of a phased approach to build a new West Kelowna city hall—in light of voters rejection of borrowing money to do so now as part of a public-private project—could mean city council shelves plans for new digs for more than a decade.

According to city staff report, the two phased plans staff were told to investigate by council following last fall’s referendum rejection of borrowing $7.7 million for the $14 million plan are not affordable or cost effective.

One proposal called for building a new three storey, 33,000-square-foot city hall with two of the floors left unfinished and approaching Interior Health about renting at least one floor for a new West Kelowna health centre. The project would be completed over 10 years.

But while that building would carry a steep up-front cost of nearly $14 million when land costs are factored in, the total cost by the time all phases are complete would be $18.6 million.

The other phased approach called for construction of a one-storey, 11,000-square-foot building with additions added in later phases over several years.

City administrative officer Jim Zaffino called that proposal “uneconomical” and one that would commit council to an “extraordinary capital expense for a building that is overpriced.” That option would cost a total of $24.3 million once all phases are complete, says the report.

So, instead of a new city hall, city staff are recommending West Kelowna instead turn its attention to building a city works yard on land it received from the province on Bartley Road, and abandon the phased approach to building a new city hall.

If council supports the recommendation, staff say it should look at building a new city hall all at one time sometime in the future after the works yard is complete and after it has set aside enough money both through contributions to a reserve fund and by raising taxes. That could take more than 11 to 13 years.

In the meantime, council it will have to figure out how to accommodate staff at the existing cramped Mt. Boucherie city office complex.

West Kelowna council is scheduled to discuss the staff report at its regular meeting tonight after a special meeting to finish up its budget deliberations.

 

Kelowna Capital News