Opinion

EDITORIAL: Get on with it

The money is in the budget and there is no additional tax on residents for the construction of the new fire hall in Qualicum Beach.

There has been a reasonable amount of debate at the council table, and the people elected in November of 2011 have made a decision that is now law of the land. At least one of those elected officials campaigned on the construction of a new fire hall, so it’s not like this should come as a surprise.

Public input has been promised, and it’s getting past time for that to happen. While we would hope council and town staff would listen to the suggestions of residents on the building’s form and character, at some point it has to be realized councillors are elected to make tough decisions and then face the music in the next election if they decide to run again.

The repeated talk of the search for grant money for this project is clearly a political ploy and a stalling tactic.

Yes, there could be grant money available. And while it’s getting tiresome to watch municipalities go cap-in-hand like Tiny Tim to senior levels of government instead of operating their own house finances, it is the reality of life regarding capital projects these days. Those employing a wait-for-grants approach to the fire hall are being disingenuous at best, deceptive at worst. Funding agencies will provide grants for capital projects, and the criteria on what they will fund changes year by year. There are two reasons why the talk of grants for the fire hall is irrelevant and makes us wonder about the real motives of the people behind that talk:

• as we have mentioned, the money is in the budget and the expenditure has been approved, without a tax increase.

• grant money that can still flow to the town can be used for other projects like the plans for Memorial Avenue upgrades. The funding agencies generally don’t care which capital project is tagged for their money. And savings through grant money are still savings to the town whether they are used on the fire hall, Memorial Avenue or any other capital project.

It’s time for all involved to move past the grant-money excuse for the snail’s pace regarding the construction of this much-needed facility. It’s now time to get some plans to the public and set a date for the dig to start.                                      — Editorial by John Harding

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