Construction of a new fire hall for Qualicum Beach will begin in 2013, provided no changes are made to a financial plan adopted as law Monday night by town council.
The town’s official financial plan now includes borrowing of $1 million in 2013 and $3 million in 2014 for the new facility. The borrowing does not mean a tax increase for residents. Rather, it shifts money that was earmarked for other priorities like paving and intersection work to the payments for the cost of borrowing for the construction of the new fire hall. Historically, town staff and councillors have reviewed the budget for a few months and have made changes up until mid-spring of the following year.
“It’s normally re-visited and amended by the middle of May,” John Marsh, the town’s financial administrator, explained this week. “But that doesn’t mean that they will (makes changes) — that’s a council decision.”
At their regular council meeting Monday night when the financial plan was adopted, Coun. Mary Brouilette said the public will be “absolutely involved” in the process.
“This is not happening behind anyone’s back,” said Brouilete. “This is a proces. We want to get it right and we are at the beginning of this process.”
Brouilette also said the $4 million figure is “pure speculation at this point. We don’t know what it will cost.”
Coun. Dave Willie said passing the financial plan with provisions for fire hall borrowing Monday night was “an important commitment for this community.” He also spoke of the safety factor and the current fire hall’s inefficiencies in regards to earthquake readiness.
“It’s prudent that this council take this serious because it is serious,” he said.
Mayor Teunis Westbroek, who has been cautioning council it may be more prudent to hold off on construction until avenues for grants could be fully pursued, put that sentiment out there again Monday, warning that grants are generally not available for projects that are already under construction.