Residents will be asked again to approve a budget increase for a proposed new fire hall for the Dashwood Volunteer Fire Department.
The price tag of the project has gone up to $6,462,662, from its 2019 budget of $4,150,000. The project has been delayed due to COVID-19.
The $4,150,000 budget was approved in 2019 with the cost to be financed through a loan. It was endorsed by residents in Electoral Areas F (Coombs, Hilliers, Errington, Whiskey Creek, Meadowood), G (French Creek, San Pareil, Little Qualicum, Englishman River) and H (Bowser, Qualicum Bay, Deep Bay) through an alternative approval process.
The new amount for the project will require an amendment to the Loan Authorization Bylaw 1789, 2019 and the Dashwood Fire Hall Service Establishment Bylaw 1785, 2019. Due to the long process to amend the bylaws, the new budget also included added contingencies to the overall cost of the project. As well, a new alternative approval process will be required.
Electoral Area B (Gabriola, DeCourcy, Mudge Islands) director Vanessa Craig asked whether it was considered to modify the design of the proposed fire hall to keep it within the budget or restrain the increased cost of the project to approximately $1 million.
The RDN’s manager of emergency services, Catherine Morrison, indicated they could look at alternative options but that would impact the design of the hall, which was intended to be the standard for all future fire hall upgrades within the regional district.
“We would have to look at reducing the size of the hall and starting that process again,” Morrison said. “In discussion with the fire department, they wish to continue proceeding with this standard design.”
Area F director Leanne Salter pointed out that Dashwood Fire Department needs a new hall.
“If you don’t support it now, we’re going to support it later,” said Salter. “And if we support it later, it’s going to cost us more because that’s how it goes.”
The RDN board on Dec. 7 approved the proposed bylaw amendments; directed staff to draft an associated electoral approval document and endorsed the increased of the 2020 Dashwood operating budget by $10,000 for the electoral approval process.