In light of last year’s rejection by the residents of a plan to build a new city hall in West Kelowna, the city says it has cut a deal to lease office space in the new Lakeview Village development on Anders Road in Lakeview Heights.
And close to quarter of the staff that currently work in the cramped confines of the existing municipal offices at the Mt. Boucherie Recreation complex could relocate to the new leased space.
The city says approximately 20 of the 95 staff at the existing city hall will move into the new space next spring.
In addition, the city also has staff working out of two other locations—12 parks staff work in a building on Elliot Road in Westbank and 24 public works staff staff work out of Bartley Road.
Moving staff to the new space on Anders Road will help alleviate the crowded conditions at Mt. Boucherie building following the 27-vote September 2016 rejection of a plan to build a new, $14 million city hall and public plaza as part of larger civic centre plan slated for Elliott Road in Westbank.That project would have included private commercial and residential buildings on the same site, one of which would have housed consolidated Interior Health services on the Westside.
The city wanted to borrow $7.7 million for that project and use $7.1 million from reserves.
As a result of the referendum defeat, West Kelowna council told city staff to investigate two other options—a phased-in plan to build a new municipal office building in Westbank using the $7.1 million from city reserves and to look at a leasing arrangement with Interior Health to occupy part of a new phased-in building in Westbank.
At the time council said it heard the message from residents.
“The message to me (in the referendum) was the citizens of West Kelowna don’t think we need to spend $14 million on a city hall,” said Coun. Duane Ophus. “We don’t need a civic plaza or expensive underground parking. We need to pull in our horns and lower our expectations.”
With the existing municipal offices at Mt. Boucherie described as “bursting at the seams,” all on council agreed something needed to be done sooner rather than later.
In addition to the latest move, a new plan for a new West Kelowna city hall is being developed, said spokewoman Kirsten Jones and beginning in 2018, the city will start putting $700,000 per year into a city hall reserve fund for construction of that building. The location, however, has yet to be determined.