View Royal slashes budget for proposed new fire hall

Nov. 17 tentative date set for referendum on borrowing

The municipality wants to replace the current View Royal Fire Hall building. View Royal lowered its loan request from $7.9 million to $5.4 million and is aiming for a Nov. 17 referendum to find out the will of residents.

View Royal city council reduced the borrowing amount for a new fire hall and public safety building from $7.9 million to up to $5.4 million in an effort to reduce costs for taxpayers.

Protective services chair Coun. Heidi Rast forwarded the motion and broke down the savings Monday night. First council agreed that they can take $500,000 off the cost of the building by going over the plans again to find savings.

View Royal also plans to borrow $1 million internally, from a sewage surplus, that could be repaid once the site of the old fire hall is sold. Rast suggested a further $1 million could come from various places, such as contributions from new developments and, potentially, from funding from the View Royal Casino.

Taking money from these sources would reduce the amount of the loan and therefore interest the city would pay on the loan. The exact amount of the loan, and its interest rate, will not be known until the project goes to tender. The total cost is for the building and everything that goes with it, including developing roads and management costs.

The motion passed unanimously.

A previous loan proposal for up to $7.9 million was voted down by View Royal residents by way of an Alternative Approval Process (AAP) in July.

Council proposes Saturday, Nov. 17 for the referendum, but that hinges on the province approving the process.

During discussions council addressed some commonly heard concerns about the proposed fire hall. Councillors made it clear that the city looked into sharing schemes including having Saanich Fire cover Victoria General Hospital or using CFB Esquimalt training facilities.

They stated that both ideas are impractical and would not save money in the long run.

“Safety and security is something that you do not play with. It is vitally important to the wellness of our community,” said View Royal Mayor Graham Hill. “We’re not investing in a coat of paint. We’re not investing in something that is trivial. We’re investing in a post-disaster structure.”

Council also passed a motion to develop a communication plan for getting the correct information to the public about the project. Rast and Coun. David Screech will sit on the committee.

Councillors Screech and Ron Mattson exchanged heated words over this matter, with Mattson upset with Screech’s comments over misinformation spread during the AAP. Mattson himself submitted an AAP form during the process, opposing the loan.

“This whole process now is to get people involved so that there’s some sort of consensus and agreement on what we’re doing,” Mattson said. “By now going back and slagging the people for misinformation doesn’t help the current process at all.”

“All I want is for things to be up front and honest,” Screech replied. “And you, to sit there and say that we’re slagging, it’s a process of respect and honesty and facts, not misinformation. And you are as guilty as any of spreading it.”

Mattson voted against the motion and expressed hope that members of the community will be invited to sit on the communication committee.

 

A motion was also passed to appoint the chief election officer and deputy chief election officer for the referendum.