West Kelowna  

West Kelowna say it has the money to build a new city hall

City hall back on the books

Nearly four years after West Kelowna residents said no to borrowing money for a new city hall, the city says it can go ahead without taxpayer money, or approval.

The city has been stockpiling money into a reserve fund specifically for construction of a new city hall since it incorporated in 2007.

That fund is expected to have a balance of about $7 million by 2022.

In a report for Tuesday's council meeting, CAO Paul Gipps says because the city's current debt is below five per cent of its annual revenue calculation, it's eligible to obtain a loan of up to $11 million from the Municipal Finance Authority.

That loan would be repaid through its annual reserve contribution of $700,000.

Gipps says the city would only borrow what it needed, and would not exceed $11 million.

"It is important for the public to understand that, in accordance with the BC Local Government Act regulations, the city cannot transfer between its statutory reserve to pay for a water utility," said Gipps in his report.

"Funds paid by all water users are regulated under a separate bylaw. In addition, council should not transfer general reserves into statutory reserves that only serve a portion of the community."

The city had  planned to construct a city hall on property on Elliott Road, however, a $7.7 million borrowing request was shot down through the Alternative Approval Process, then came up 27 votes shy in a citywide referendum.

Council has seen construction of a new city hall as a priority at some point as the city continues to grow.

The city has grown from 28,000 to 35,800 residents since incorporation, while staff has more than doubled from 97 to 215 over that same period.

"The temporary use of the Mt. Boucherie Community Centre, and temporary site trailers overflowed years ago," added Gipps.

"The city fundamentally requires adequate infrastructure to effectively deliver its administration and services to our residents, businesses, visitors and customers."

The Elliott Road location is no longer available, meaning the city will have to scope out a new site.

However, Mayor Gord Milsom cautions the city is in the early stages. Nothing is expected to happen for a year or two.

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