Central Saanich council is debating how far it should go with planning construction of a new administration and police building with a municipal election looming next fall.
District administrator Gary Nason updated council on where the project is and where he feels it should go in the next few months.
In response to a council recommendation, staff requested $64,000 to allow them to proceed with further design to present to the public at an open house.
“Given the required next steps for the fire hall project as well as several other major projects to be completed prior to the end of the current council’s mandate, a reasonable and achievable objective for the town hall project in 2011 would be to further advance the design concepts to a stage suitable for formal presentation and feedback at a public open house to be held before the onset of summer,” said Nason. “At that stage further work on the project would essentially cease until after the election and a new council is in place in 2012.”
The work should take four months to complete, culminating in a public open house in late May or early June this year.
Councillor Susan Mason expressed concern over the approximately $64,000 cost of preparing architectural designs for the administration, police and satellite fire station.
“While I recognize that certainly, this administration and police building need to be done in the near future … I don’t want it to get in the way of the process we’re undergoing with the fire hall … we owe it to the citizens not to get distracted,” said councillor Adam Olsen, agreeing with Mason.
Mason suggested going to the public for an opinion without a design or schematics for the building.
“In my opinion you need to have that sort of information on pictorial boards and display boards so the public can comment. It’s something they can look at and relate to. It would be very challenging to have a public open house based on the information we have now,” said Nason.
“There’s been a lot of energy and cost spent to date that warrants going to the next step of preparing a budget and design,” said councillor Terry Siklenka. “We need to have public input and until we have the information we can’t get feedback. The reason we are entertaining this is because this building is not safe, it doesn’t meet the current seismic and building codes … it comes down to staff and public safety and it’s our responsibility to complete the next step.”
Olsen and Mason supported leaving the project where it stands now for a new council to deal with in 2012.
“It’s prudent to proceed to the next step,” said resident Wayne Watkins. “This council has an obligation to carry on as long, and as far, as is reasonable to keep the ball rolling and take this to the next reasonable step in a positive manner.”
Mayor Jack Mar was in agreement with moving the project forward. “When the next council comes along they can make any decision they want. We’re only caretakers while we’re sitting here,” he said.
As councillor Ron Kubek was not in attendance at the meeting, Mason moved they defer discussion until such time as he could take part.