Prince Rupert Residents will have to take a few steps if they wish to express any concerns over a proposed loan authorization for the Proposed RCMP detachment at McBride and Third Avenue East.
That as City Council members have decided to make use of the Alternate Approval Process to hear or more to the point perhaps, to not hear from the public on the initiative.
The review of the options began with a Report from the City's Chief Financial Officer Corrine Bomben, the report posted to the City Council Agenda and a document we made note of on Monday.
Ms. Bomben did not veer too much from that script as she outlined the differences between the two proposals for consultation, the main items of note, the cost comparison for the two and what potential impact that a deferral of the referendum option to a fall election could have towards the timeline for construction and loan authorizaton.
The cost of a referendum is estimated at 35,000 dollars, compared to the AAP process of 7,000 dollars.
"There is a General Election being held this year, if council chooses to combine the referendum question with the election in October to save the additional cost it may choose to do so. However, a delay in the process for the loan may increase the cost of the project overall, due to the current construction cost and supply chain uncertainties" -- CFO Corinne Bomben on the options for consultation for the required Loan Authorization for the new RCMP building
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When it came to commentary, those Council members who spoke to the topic were unanimous in their support of the Alternate Approval Process.
Councillor Niesh opened up the discussion noting of how it is a tool to move forward with the project more efficiently, observing that if the city doesn't do the project, it will be built regardless by the RCMP, with the City to receive a bill from the Federal government.
He also noted how the Alternative approval process could send the topic to referendum, should more than ten percent of the population disagree with the City's plans for financing the structure.
"I feel it's a tool to move forward more efficiently on this project ... if we don't do this project it's going to be built regardless of what we say and then we'll be sent a bill. So to drag the city out for a referendum on something that realistically we have to build I just don't see the sense in spending that money in doing that. And if there is a strong opposition to the project, then people can still come forward and say their opposition by filling out the form for denying the Alternate Approval Process" -- Councillor Wade Niesh
Council Mirau concurred with many of Mr. Niesh's overview on the preference for the Alternate Approval Process and how it was not a Yes/No question related to a referendum; but rather that a decision to borrow money is now more of an and/or situation which would give the City control over the construction process.
"For me one of the most important considerations on whether or not to do an Alternative Approval Process versus the Referendum is the fact that the new detachment is legally mandated ... It's beyond the fact you know that the RCMP has given years of notice, ample notice and that they can go build it themselves. But essentially what that means to me is, it means that this decision, whether or not to borrow 25 million dollars for this purpose, it's not a Yes/No question that is suited for a referendum, it's really an and/or decision.
Do we really want to pay 25 million dollars and have local control over the construction, or do we not want to pay 25 million dollars and get billed later for a potentially much higher amount" -- Councillor Blair Mirau
He too noted that if a significant number of the population objected, the request could be added to the ballot in the Fall election period.
Councillor Skelton-Morven was also in favour of the AAP, as was Councillor Cunningham who recounted other locations where projects were built and communities billed at a higher cost with items not necessarily required added to the completed project.
"You know, people got to realize that if we're opposed to this location, or to the fact that we've got to build it, they've got to realize that if we don't have control of the building, where it is or how we're going to build it, we're going to get a bill for a lot of frills that we don't need in a police station. You know like its happened in other towns, other cities where they built it and just gave them the bill and it was a lot more expensive than what it's going to be"
Councillor Randhawa was the final council member to speak to the issue he too agreeing with the Alternative Approval Process.
Mayor Brain brought the topic to an end, noting how the detachment build is a required mandate item with the RCMP having the option to go and build their own structure and sending the bill to the City.
"If they did send us a bill we'd have to go out for a loan for that bill anyways, so we'd be doing this again with a higher bill ... We are in the situation we are in, unfortunately those are mandated costs on municipalities."
With Council voting in favour of the move towards the Alternate Approval Process Mr. Brain also noted of a public community engagement/education campaign to start soon to explain the process to the community.
You can review the full discussion on the topic from the City's Video Archive starting at the eight minute mark.
A wider overview of the Monday Council session can be explored through our Council Timeline Feature here.
Further background on past Council discussion themes is available here.