View Royal residents voted in favour of the town borrowing $5.49 million to build its new fire hall.
Unofficial results show 1,677 residents supporting the loan, while 924 voted against it. An estimated 33 per cent of eligible voters participated in the referendum, held Saturday.
“I have a huge respect and am grateful to the 60 per cent or so of the folks who voted for this, because that’s a resounding approval,” Mayor Graham Hill said. “It’s an affirmation of the council’s position, it is a ringing endorsement of the volunteers and the department and the management there.”
“I’m quite relieved, I’m glad that the process is done,” said Coun. Heidi Rast, protective services chair. “I think the town hall had much better quality information. I think that helped a lot. I also think that the volunteer (firefighters) association, they put a lot of hard work in. They went literally door-to-door to every household. I think that made a big difference.”
View Royal Fire Rescue has operated out of its current fire hall since 1957. Engineering reports done in the 1990s determined the building to be seismically unsound.
The new safety building is proposed for 329-337 Island Highway.
A loan of up to $7.9 million was rejected by residents through the Alternative Approval Process in July, forcing the referendum.
Leading up to the referendum, the town reduced the amount of the loan by shaving $500,000 off the project, borrowing $1 million internally and deciding to use a further $1 million from contributions from new developments or other sources.
Going into the referendum Hill was unsure what the results would be.
“Frankly, the previous night was pretty sleepless,” Hill said. “Because this was so important, as I saw it, for the wellness of the town.”
Hill said in hindsight the AAP may not have been the best way to approach seeking approval from the community.
“I think a mistake was made in going to an AAP, where you cannot get out all the information to as broad a community as you want,” Hill said. “I’m not very much of an advocate for it and I think I made a mistake in supporting that.”
The total cost of the building is estimated to be about $7.37 million, an estimated property tax increase of $85 per year for an average single-family residence, a 6.7 per cent increase.