Feasibility study should be done on old RONA building for police station

All infrastructure projects at one time, province wide, had to go to public referendum for approval

Feasibility study should be done on old RONA building for police station

Round and round she goes and no one knows where she stops. Exactly the same way the council at the Municipality of North Cowichan works.

North Cowichan is in the process of construction of a new police station. Estimated cost is now at $41 million, money that is going to be borrowed, and a portion to be paid back by the RCMP and the provincial government. North Cowichan will pay interest on the total loan until funds are received from the RCMP corporate offices, and the provincial government. Two initial contracts are on the table now for approval by council towards the architectural and planning side of the project. One contract will cost $1,053,000 plus GST and the second contract will cost $875,000 plus GST. Note that these two contracts still do not put a shovel in the ground.

All infrastructure projects at one time, province wide, had to go to a public referendum for approval. The estimated cost for a public referendum is $58,000 and council does not want to proceed in that option. Instead they are using the AAP (Alternative Approval Process) where if 10 per cent of the voting public object to the construction of a new police station, a second look must be taken. This APP is used so that council can get their own way with taxpayers’ money and proceed with the project. Note that this APP is an available option to all municipal governments.

Ironically, there is a vacant Rona building store at Cowichan Commons that is for sale for $$9,893,000. The building is on 6.1 acres with a floor space of 66,000 square feet. If council is avoiding to spend $58,000 on a public referendum, then use this money towards a feasibility study on what the cost would be to convert the Rona building into a new police station. The above two contracts for a total of $1,928,000 plus GST could be put on hold to see if the Rona building is a viable option or not.

When it comes to North Cowichan council spending money on their own homes, they shop the market for the best estimate. This also applies when spending taxpayer dollars. The municipality have already purchased the land for the new proposed police station. This land could be sold if the Rona building option was used. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that conversion of the Rona building would be less costly to the taxpayers than the proposal that North Cowichan council is proceeding with.

Council fails to realize, that they are playing around with taxpayer dollars, and options should be considered before making a final decision. North Cowichan council want everything brand new, state of the art facility, forgetting that this is Duncan, B.C. and not Georgia Street in Vancouver that has all of the fancy offices. North Cowichan council has already announced that property taxes will be going up next year by approximately four-plus per cent, in relation to the new police station. These yearly increases in property taxes have to stop now. One option is to freeze all wages, both management and union, as the real truth is every employee working in the Municipality of North Cowichan are well paid, and a wage freeze would not affect them at all.

Mayor and councillors, remember that taxpayers vote you into your jobs, and in four years, the taxpayers can also vote you out of your jobs. In summary, before spending anymore taxpayers dollars, do a feasibility study on the vacant Rona building. Unbelievable!

Joe Sawchuk

Duncan

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