West Kelowna has dropped its plan to include a referendum question on the November civic election ballot about building a new municipal hall.
According to the municipality, negotiations are still underway for the West Kelowna Civic Centre project and council was advised the necessary funding information needed to put the question to voters will not be ready in time for the Nov. 15 vote.
“We want the best possible project for West Kelowna taxpayers,” said Mayor Doug Findlater. “Council was unanimous on this point. We don’t want to rush any part of this key component of our economic development strategy and important municipal amenity. With the election just a few weeks away and complex negotiations with the developer and planning still well underway, we are not ready to include the civic centre question on this year’s ballot.”
In June, West Kelowna council announced it had chosen 3641 Elliott Road as the preferred location for the development of a civic centre to replace the current municipal offices at the Mount Boucherie Recreation Centre.
The district started negotiations with its selected proponent, New Town/Sturgess Group. Concurrently, the district is also actively pursuing public sector tenant partnerships for the proposed complex and searching for other funding to help offset the cost, estimated will cost $8.9 million.
“These complex financial negotiations, although very promising and exciting, are taking some time to get through,” said Findlater. “Our council is very cautious and dedicated to ensuring that the costs of this project remain in tight control, that we are getting out of it what this community needs and that when taxpayers are asked this important funding question, we present the most comprehensive information we can for them. We want to have absolutely accurate and firm cost information before it moves forward. It is too important a project to push through at this time.”
Findlater said the when the question of when to ask for public approval to borrow money for the project will be left up to the new council in 2015.
The proposed building will be built in phases with the first phase a 24,015-square-foot municipal hall owned by the district. An option to include 7,000 square feet of expansion will be included.
There would also be a residential building on the site, a public plaza and an office building, all owned by the developer, as well as underground and above ground parking.