Tuesday, May 03, 2016

City hall on shaky ground

by Wayne Moore - CASTANET May 3, 2016 / 2:16 pm
City staff in West Kelowna are in the process of vetting more than 3,000 'no' forms which could, for the time being, scuttle the city's plans to build a new city hall. Registered voters in the city have until 4 p.m. today to drop off Alternative Approval process forms, effectively registering their opposition to the city's plan to borrow up to $10.5 million for construction of a new city hall on Elliott Road. In order to defeat the borrowing bylaw, 10 per cent of eligible voters, 2,603, must register their disapproval. A group which organized a vigorous no campaign, turned in about 3,000 forms Tuesday morning. Prior to that, the city had already received 694 forms.

Staff are in the process of verifying the validity of each form to ensure those who signed them live in the city, have signed only once and are confirmed registered voters. To be eligible, people must be 18 or over, a Canadian citizen, resident of B.C. for at least six months and a West Kelowna resident for at least 30 days.It will likely be Wednesday before an official tally is complete.

If the 10 per cent threshold is met, the city will have two choices: scrap the idea altogether or go to a full referendum. Opposition spokesman Ian Graham said they are not against a new city hall. "It was the fact that the city council wanted to use a back door, and from our point of view, an undemocratic, Alternate Approval Process to borrow the money rather than do what most of the citizens wanted, which is a proper and full citizen’s referendum vote at election time.” Graham said. “The citizens of West Kelowna have watched their sister city, Kelowna, borrow approximately $150 million through the Alternate Approval Process and do not want that happening to their own young city. The taxpayers are the ones that ultimately have to pay for all the borrowing and it can add up very quickly.” Graham said the city should look for an alternative space for city employees, until sufficient funding can be saved.

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