City ready to borrow $7 million

Kelowna is once again putting the onus on residents to stop it from borrowing $7 million for two municipal infrastructure projects.

The city will use its “alternative approval process,” a form of reverse billing, to gain approval to borrow $3 million for a UV water disinfection facility and a transmission main and $4 million to upgrade an electrical system.

The province has given the city the power to use the controversial process.

It requires 10 per cent of eligible voters in the city (11,850) to sign a petition to force it to hold a vote on the borrowing proposals after a decision has been made to proceed.

The petition deadline will be Oct. 24.

A similar business practice used by private companies in B.C. was made illegal in the late 1990s by the former NDP government.

However, local governments are allowed to use it for large public borrowing projects to avoid the cost of holding a formal vote.

Using it allows the municipality to proceed with borrowing without specific public approval. As long as the number who put their objections in writing is less than 10 per cent, it can proceed.

Kelowna has used the process several times in the past, including for the expansion of the plan to build the H2O Aquatic Centre.

Council was expected to approve the use of the alternate approval process Monday for the two borrowing projects.



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