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Yea or nay to new RCMP building?

Kelowna Councillors Andre Blanleil and Gerry Zimmermann took issue with voter criticism of the need to borrow more than $42M for a new RCMP detachment in the city.

Blanleil told council people need to realize the city's 50-year-old detachment is well past its shelf life.

While he says he hates spending a lot of money, the city really doesn't have a choice in this matter.

"What the public have got to realize is the RCMP themselves could actually go to the province and ask to have it built without our approval. Then we don't control the budget and we don't control the costs," says Blanleil.

"It is inevitable, we have to build it. It's a matter of how we do it...borrowing it rather than taking it from general taxation which would be a huge hit to the taxpayer."

By borrowing long term, Blanleil says the financial impact will be spread generationally and not just become the burden of the current taxpayer.

"What people need to realize is this is not a frill, it's not an extra. The meetings we've had at council, we've asked a lot of questions about how to save costs and money on making sure this building isn't overbuilt," added Blanleil

Zimmermann agreed adding people also need to realize there is a certain standard which a new RCMP building must be built to.

He says the city doesn't have a say in those standards.

"I've heard comments like why can't we use an existing building and the answer to that is it just wouldn't fit - it has to be built from the ground up," says Zimmermann.

"For instance to build it to the standard required, one lock-up cell is worth in the neighbourhood of $200,000. There's no way we can get around that."

Eligible voters have until 4 p.m. Friday, March 28 to oppose the borrowing initiative.

Borrowing approval is granted if the number of negative responses received through the process is less than 10 per cent of the number of eligible voters (9,484) by the deadline imposed.

Forms will be available at the Parkinson Rec Centre, City Hall and on-line.

The City will also host two open houses pertaining to the new police building March 6 and 10 from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Royal Anne Hotel.

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