Letter: Abundant empty space for West Kelowna council, staff to lease

Leasing the needed space now would defer the burden of the proposed construction costs well into the future.

To the editor:

It would appear that the West Kelowna council has a problem with the evident wishes of its residents, regarding the spending of $10 million plus on a new city hall. [A referendum approved by West Kelowna council Tuesday, June 14, will ask for approval to borrow $7.7 million. See West Kelowna Civic Centre Will Go to Referendum.]

Is anyone in City Hall paying attention to the 500 lb. gorilla in the room?

No one is saying that city hall has not outgrown its existing facility or denying them new offices to carry on the work.   What is being said is to look at other options available outside of the usual borrow, spend and tax tunnel vision program.

West Kelowna has a relatively small land mass and tax base when compared to similar-sized communities.  We are neighbours to the WFN which has substantial holdings and a lucrative income based on its commercially developed properties.  A visitor to West Kelowna could be forgiven for assuming that all land from Gorman’s Mill to the bridge, is all City of West Kelowna.

The residents that signed the [alternative approval process] petition, and many more who couldn’t/didn’t, want our City Hall administrators to get hold of this fact and start thinking outside the box.  The cavalier attitude of this council toward the taxpayer’s legitimate concerns, is alarming.

One option that is available is the old Zellers building—loads of space, central to our community and easy access with plenty of parking.  Why not a triple net lease for 15 to 20 years with improvements thrown in?

How about Estate Square? Again a brand new (15-year-old), four-storey office tower that has never been occupied, along with the empty Sears building next to it?  Why borrow and build when we can lease?

Leasing the needed space now would defer the burden of the proposed construction costs well into the future, giving the community a chance to grow and be better able to shoulder the cost of the proposed splendiferous new city hall.

Is anyone listening?

Brian R. Mellis, West Kelowna