Adoption of the bylaw permitting the District of Sechelt to borrow up to $3 million to construct its operations centre is on the agenda for its March 17 council meeting.
Also on that agenda is receipt of the results of the Alternative Approval Process (AAP) completed on Feb. 26 to seek elector consent to take the loan. In the AAP, 509 response forms in opposition to the loan were filed. As that number was lower than 10 percent of the jurisdictions 8,603 estimated qualified voters, council consideration of the loan is authorized.
If more than 10 percent of electors had submitted opposition forms, council would have been required to seek approval of borrowing through a referendum. Either AAP or referendum approval is required when a local government seeks to borrow money that is to be repaid over a term that is longer than five years. The loan for the operations centre is slated for repayment over a 20 year period.
Securing the loan is not forecast to impact 2020 property taxes for Sechelt residents. Future property tax increases will depend on the actual amount borrowed. Based on current information, the District estimates that an owner of a residential property assessed in 2021 in the $640,000 range will be paying about $31.29 more in taxes once loan repayment begins.
The funds are needed to construct a new base for the operations of the municipality’s Public Works and Parks Departments. Total project costs are estimated at $3.8 million. The new 819 square meter building is to be located on the site that has been home to the two departments since 2012, near the intersection of Dusty and Sechelt Inlet roads. For almost nine years, eighteen staff members working in these municipal functions have had modular buildings, which were obtained from School District No. 46, as offices, washroom, change and warm-up areas. Other temporary structures on the site serve as workshops and storage areas for equipment and materials.
Commenting on the AAP results in a press release issued March 12, Sechelt’s Director of Engineering and Operations Kirn Dhillon said, “this will be a real boost in morale for the District’s essential workers. All through the alternative approval process, the District made great efforts to be transparent in the need for this facility, and residents responded with support. What we learned about open and transparent communication during this process is a valuable lesson we will apply to other projects.”
The new building is designed to accommodate additional department supervisory and administrative staff that could be relocated to that site from the District’s central office on Cowrie Street. The design has four work bays that could be used for equipment servicing as well as loading. A workshop and storage areas are also included. Additional exterior storage, such as a shelter for road salt, will continue to be part of the compound.
The District is planning to incorporate environmentally friendly factors, such as clean energy options and rainwater collection, in the facility design.
Following council consideration of the loan for the project, details on the construction timeframe are anticipated to be released.
In the District’s press release, Sechelt Mayor Darnelda Siegers stated, “I want to thank the community members who got involved because it raised awareness of this project in the community and helped us share the need for this new building. It’s great to see the community getting involved with local government processes. I am so pleased to see the community support our parks and public works staff through this process.”