A $25 million loan to build a new RCMP detachment and possibly increase taxes by one per cent, will need public ascent before Prince Rupert City Council can pass a new bylaw authorizing the borrowing.
The city council heard on Jan. 10, the multi-million dollar loan may have an up to 30-year payback term at $1.2 million per year. A tax increase may be necessary if the full estimated loan is borrowed for the capital project.
However, that is not anticipated as the budgeting has already been completed, Lee Brain, mayor of the city, confirmed at the regular council meeting.
New tax revenues will cover the majority of the repayments the city receives from 2018 and 2019 industrial projects, Corrine Bomben, chief financial officer, said.
“Thankfully, these taxes were set aside, otherwise the tax increase for this loan would have been nearly seven per cent,” she explained to the council.
The importance of the public understanding that if the city did not commit to the project, the provincial RCMP could build the facilities and bill back the city for all costs, was expressed by Coun. Barry Cunningham during discussions.
“This is something people don’t realize has been in the works for the last five to 10, maybe 15 years. It’s something that hasn’t been dealt with, and now we have to … One way or another it’s going to be built — this way we have control over building it versus them deciding to do what they want and giving us the bill,” he said.
Brain corroborated that it is a mandated process and finding a suitable location has been an issue over the past 15 years.
The new detachment will be located on land purchased by the city in 2020 at the corner of McBride and 3rd Ave. East where the Kingdom Hall of the Jehovah’s Witnesses now sits.
“The current detachment was commissioned in 1978, over 40 years ago, and no longer meets the needs of the RCMP,” Bomben said. She explained the obligation to provide adequate accommodation falls under the Municipal Police Agreement.
Coun. Wade Neish said he has toured the current police facilities and saw first-hand the problems with the building, seven years ago.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he said. However, he expressed his concern about architects wanting to create “showpieces” out of public buildings and the necessity for the council to consider a more practical, cost-effective construction that will live up to Prince Rupert’s annual “ten feet of rain.”
Bomben pointed out it was necessary to obtain public approval for the loan. Once approved, engineering would be completed, various construction and fixturing options for the new building could be considered including a green building.
Public approval can be obtained in one of two ways, Bomben said.
“The first is the alternative approval process which allows the council to proceed with an action unless at least 10 per cent of the eligible electors indicate their opposition within a certain time frame,” she explained.
The second is a direct referendum, a simple majority by ballot voting system, to which the city council agreed.
Once the fourth and final reading of the bylaw occurs later in the year, Bomben said the funds will be drawn down as needed to finance the engineering, design, construction, and commissioning of the detachment.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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