City of Powell River Council has allocated $29,000 toward building site studies for the new emergency services facility.
At the September 17 city council meeting, councillors voted to reallocate funds that had been dedicated to community engagement on the project to two studies and a survey, looking at a new site at the municipal works yard. A site on Barnet Street adjacent to the RCMP detachment building had originally been identified as the site of the new emergency services building, but further study has revealed the new site as a desirable location.
Earlier in the week, fire chief Terry Peters told the September 15 committee of the whole meeting that funding is required for geotechnical and environmental studies and a surveyor, which combined, according to a report from Peters to the committee, would come to $30,000. The site of the proposed new emergency services building will be at 7160 Duncan Street, which is part of the municipal works yard at the corner of Duncan Street and Ontario Avenue.
“We can’t proceed to do this study with the recommendations from our emergency services facility select advisory committee unless we have a line item to do so,” said Peters. “By doing that, we talked with our chief financial officer, and there is no line item. However, in being creative with that committee, realizing the circumstances we have now and conditions we are dealing with, the community engagement is not going to be proceeding as quickly as we would have liked. There are funds available for community engagement that can be utilized now.”
Peters said the ask was to reallocate those funds to undertake the studies and the survey. He said there was $29,000 remaining in the public engagement budget and the estimated cost of the studies is $30,000.
“This is actually moving forward with the Duncan Street location,” said Peters. “Once that is done and we get the study from Johnston Davidson Architecture and Planning, we’ll be back here from our advisory committee and give you the findings for everything. Potentially, that may very well be the site we are looking for. We’ll give you a plan A and a plan B.”
Mayor Dave Formosa said he thinks the matter is straightforward and he wouldn’t want to hinder this committee any longer.
“I’d like to see them carry on and move on,” said Formosa. “What is the quickest way to get this $29,000 reallocated to be used toward the $30,000 budget so we can move seamlessly along here?”
Corporate officer Chris Jackson said the matter would have to be sent to city council to make that decision.
Councillor George Doubt asked Peters if he was fairly confident the studies could come in on budget for the amount of money that is there.
Peters said these were estimates given by the city’s director of infrastructure. He said when the last study was done on the site at Barnet Street, there was money left over.
Doubt said he likes this process of using money budgeted for community engagement to do these studies.
“Community engagement isn’t happening right now,” said Doubt. “With COVID-19 we are not having any public meetings. Down the road we are probably going to have community engagement and at that time we are going to have to come up with some money to do that.”
Councillor Maggie Hathaway, who chairs the emergency services committee, said it could not proceed with public engagement until the Barnet location is abandoned. She added that until the new site is studied, there cannot be public engagement.
“We have nothing to move forward with, so what we’ll do is utilize this money,” said Hathaway. “We have some pretty good expertise on the committee who think those numbers are high so I’m feeling confident we can come in under that budget.
“For next year’s budget, when we start through the process, we’ll be asking for new money to fund the public engagement and we’ll be ready to move forward.”