As he neared the end of the regular routine of his mayor’s report at Monday evening’s city council meeting, Mayor Jack Mussallem made a surprise move, and asked council members to consider taking the bylaw route, rather than a referendum, for a new emergency services building in Prince Rupert.
“The need for a new building is quite evident and the cost of repairs to the fire hall and the police detachment overhaul are extensive, especially when the police detachment require a new cell block along with everything else,” Mussallem said.
Requesting the council think about considering a new emergency services building by use of a bylaw, Mussallem said if the public wishes to express concern, they can do that by use of a counter petition against the bylaw.
Last fall it was confirmed by City Manager Gordon Howie the City is considering going to referendum over a new facility to house the Prince Rupert Fire and Rescue and the R.C.M.P. At that time he said the referendum would possibly coincide with the municipal election in November.
Since Howie’s comments there had not been any further discussion until the mayor broached the subject Monday evening.
According to the mayor, his reasons for posing the bylaw option are twofold. The first is to save six months, which would result in saving the taxpayers money on construction costs as contractors get busy going into the future. The second reason is that emergency services are something the City will always have to provide for.
“If a referendum were to take place and the residents said no, the City would have to use the bylaw process with a counter petition and proceed as these are emergency services that must be provided for,” he added.
He cited the overall time frame and the cost of the project as concerns and said he wasn’t asking for any immediate decisions.
“I know that members of council will certainly have their own opinions on this. I’m not asking for any discussion tonight, but I would ask you to consider what I’ve stated and you will get a copy of this. There a couple of ways of looking at this, but I think it would be best if it’s done in the most efficient and least expensive way going forward.”
Afterwards local citizen Larry Golden, the only person in attendance at the meeting, said he wondered if the City could afford to borrow money for a new facility. He also said he thought it was better for the City to wait until a new council is in place in November before any decisions around a new facility are made.