(File photo)

City of West Kelowna endorses plan for $11 million loan to build new city hall

The new facility will cost an estimated $18 million in total

Plans for a new city hall in West Kelowna, that could cost up to $18 million, were given the green light by city council on Tuesday.

Councillors were presented with the detailed plans for the proposed facility and the $11 million loan that would be required to build it during the meeting and gave the borrowing bylaw its first three readings.

“Is there a need? Absolutely,” said chief administrative officer Paul Gipps. “Is there a right time? I think that time is now.”

READ MORE: West Kelowna looks to build new $18 million city hall

Gipps presented a report that showed West Kelowna could borrow up to $11 million for the design and construction of the new building, without having to increase city taxes.

By the time the needed funds would be drawn in 2022, an additional $7 million will be available to build the new facility, with all of it coming from a reserve fund.

While council unanimously endorsed the plan on Tuesday night, residents rejected a similar plan during a referendum in 2016, which failed by 27 votes.

This time around, the city will not require a referendum because the city’s current debt is below five per cent of its annual revenue calculation.

READ MORE: Okanagan Youth Recovery House gets unanimous approval from West Kelowna council

While the decision to move forward on a new city hall was supported by Mayor Gord Milsom and the rest of council, the city said it remains focused on its number one priority – the Rose Valley Water Treatment Plant.

Gipps said the plans and funding for the new city hall would not in any way inhibit the continued construction of the treatment plant, which is scheduled for completion in 2022.

The report stated a new city hall would also not affect the 2020 budget or West Kelowna’s five-year financial plan.

READ MORE: West Kelowna residents conflicted over proposed new development on greenfields

Approval of a new city hall should help alleviate frustration and limits that city employees have endured since West Kelowna’s incorporation in 2007.

With city employees scattered among five separate buildings, office sizes cut in half, supplies and meeting spaces made more scarce with more than 215 city employees, councillors said city staff deserve a better working environment.

“I believe this is a compelling case to consolidate and improve work flow,” said Coun. Doug Findlater.

Councillors also agreed that this is the best time for an exclusive city hall.

“This is an opportunity we have now that we won’t have in a year or two,” said Coun. Jason Friesen.

The bylaw must now receive provincial approval before West Kelowna council considers the city hall plans’s adoption.

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