Sunday, March 10, 2013

Emergency Services Building Review set for Monday night

The much discussed (if hard to get to the development phase) plan to build a new Emergency Services building for the city's RCMP detachment and Fire and Rescue Service will get another look over on Monday night, as City Council reviews the state of the planning for the much needed facility.

When we last left Mayor Mussallem, he was updating Shaun Thomas of the Northern View as to the progress (such as it is) of the examination of the project and offering up a thought that perhaps a referendum may be required to answer the question of financing of it, with Council to decide if that is the path they wish to choose for the final say on the issue.

At the moment, there is seemingly some thought being given to tie the referendum option into the political fate of current City Councillor Jennifer Rice.

Councillor Rice is also the NDP candidate in the upcoming provincial election. Whether, or even if, she decides to relinquish her council seat, either before May's provincial election, or after it (assuming she would be successful on the campaign trail), could apparently provide an opportunity to seek out the counsel of the public on the issue.

The Mayor has also hinted towards the idea of postponing any plans for the new building until more industrial development arrives on the North Coast, allowing the City to spread out the cost over what we imagine he hopes would be a larger revenue stream.

As we outlined on the blog last year, the Emergency Services building has become the thing of a long running soap opera, always on the horizon, never on the front burner, frequently kicked down the road to discuss for another day.

With the first council session for March, it would appear that the "another day" has once again arrived.

At Monday Night's session Acting City Manager Dan Rodin is expected to provide a report to Council on the topic, (See Agenda page 2 section e)

You can review the latest of talking points, financials for the Mayor and Council from the Report, a copy of which is included in the (Agenda package Pages 46 to 53)

In the report  Mr. Rodin outlines some of the themes for discussion at Monday's council meeting.

The fact that the City recognizes that the Fire Hall and Police Station have outlived their useful lives, that it is more economical and operationally more efficient to construct new buildings rather than renovate the existing buildings and that the City recognizes that a significant portion of any new industrial property tax receivable will be required.

The desired location is still the stretch of land on the east side of McBride at 6th Avenue, where the current park and tennis courts are located.

The Conclusion however, would seem to err towards the Mayor's thoughts of putting the project a few years down the road still and even at that, seemingly divide it into two parts.

It states: Council, by approving the proposed resolutions, which resolve many of the questions that have been raised during the discussion, will move the process of acquiring new facilities forward to a point so that in two to three years when the City's Financial situation improves, the City can quickly initiate a process to obtain financing to build the first of two public safety buildings.

Clearly, there is a need for a bit of debate on this issue, the planned structures have already been delayed and the plan to further delay things even longer seems quite in place.

Hopefully, Councillors are engaged on this topic on Monday and allow the voters to see where they stand on the issue. While finances are always an issue in Prince Rupert, some of those financial concerns seem to be in the nature of their own making at City Hall, for many in the city the time to make some concrete moves on infrastructure has long past.

However, as we have seen in the Mayors' thoughts to the local paper and with the Conclusion to the report for Monday's agenda, the table it seems is being set once again for this council to pass the problem on to the next one, a cycle that is starting to seem rather familiar around here.

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