Just when you thought the cost of Royal Lepage Place couldn’t get any higher, yet another bill was revealed by the District of West Kelowna Tuesday that is directly attributable to construction of the community arena.
Mayor Doug Findlater said his taxpayers were on the hook for another $42,000 as a contribution to more than $227,000 paid by the Central Okanagan School District to build a path for students to get safely to Mt. Boucherie secondary school during construction.
It’s one more bitter pill for council to swallow after inheriting the building and its cost as a Regional District of Central Okanagan project.
“(It’s) another joyful story out of Royal Lepage Place,” Findlater said sarcastically.
The arena was originally estimated to cost $5.1 million when taxpayers agreed in a referendum to borrow $3.2 million to fund it. When the District of West Kelowna took over the building it was well over $13 million and still unfinished. Close to $1 million more has been spent finishing the geothermal heating system, adding a dry floor and correcting mistakes in original construction.
This final wrinkle has been an ongoing dispute the school district has been fighting for at least three years to recoup costs of the trail. Till Tuesday’s meeting, those discussions took place behind closed doors.
According to Findlater, the regional district originally agreed to pay $100,000 to the school district for the trail before West Kelowna was even incorporated.
When the new municipality was born, the regional district handed the bill to West Kelowna, one of many points of contention councillors have with the regional district in the transition of responsibilities.
“Council was advised that to continue with litigation to resolve the matter, it was estimated that costs could range up to $140,000 and council determined this was not a suitable risk to take on behalf of taxpayers,” he said.
The three parties went to mediation and the school district agreed to reduce the amount to $42,000. West Kelowna also felt CORD should pay up “considering its role in the walkway creation and the manner in which this occurred.”
The $42,000 is contingent on the regional district contributing $25,000.
“While this arrangement is unsatisfactory to all parties, it’s important to note that all three spent taxpayer funds. By reaching this agreement all three parties have avoided significant legal costs,” Findlater said.
Marshall Jones is a Capital News contributor.