West Kelowna has received approval from the province to hold a referendum on the future of its plan to build a new $14 million city hall.
City resident s will be asked in a referendum scheduled for Sept. 17 if they approve borrowing up to $7.7 million for the project.
The city received approval from the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development for its borrowing bylaw on Thursday. The bylaw was given the first three readings by council June 14 and can now proceed to referendum.
“We will now embark on what I believe will be another robust debate in West Kelowna, as voters decide the future of our city hall and the West Kelowna Civic Centre Project,” said Mayor Doug Findlater.
“But I hope that the debate remains respectful and focuses on the true topic at hand. We need a city hall. After much consideration we’ve placed it in the most appropriate location for our community. We’ve budgeted very carefully for this important investment and we have incorporated economic development and improved health services for the community with it. Now, we need every West Kelowna voter to vote.”
Voters will be asked: “Are you in favour of the City of West Kelowna adopting the City of West Kelowna City Hall Project Loan Authorization Bylaw No. 0234, 2016 to authorize the borrowing of up to Seven Million, Seven Hundred Thousand Dollars ($7,700,000.00) to be repaid over a period not exceeding 20 years, for the construction of a new city hall and related project work?”
Locations of polling stations, information about mail in ballots and advance polls will be made available soon. More information on the project can be found at www.westkelownacity.ca.
A plan to use the Alternative Approval process to win support for borrowing $10 million for the project was soundly defeated by the public earlier htis year as opponents collected far more than the 10 per cent of eligible voters signatures’ needed to send the issue back to council for further consideration.
The proposed new city hall would be a 32,215-square-foot, three story building and include expansion space for future requirements which could be leased out in the interim. The city hall is part of the larger West Kelowna Civic Centre project, which is a public-private partnership with Strategic Development Group. When built, the new city hall would be owned by West Kelowna, including the land it sits on. The remainder of the site is slated to include an office building, owned by Strategic Development Group, which has already secured a lease agreement with Interior Health for a consolidated health centre in the office space, as well as two residential buildings, also owned by Strategic Development Group. A public plaza and underground parking throughout the project would also be included.
On June 14, West Kelowna council was provided with new funding options for the city hall project. The borrowing amount was lowered to $7.7 million after the conclusion of the 2015 financial audit indicated a surplus of just over $2.7 million. Council agreed to apply the $1.5 million surplus in its General Revenue Fund to the project and $308,000 from irts City Yards Reserve Account to the project.
The move will not impact projects listed in the city’s 10-year capital plan, according to the city.