Town of Qualicum Beach staff members have introduced a criteria to evaluate the future workplace of the town’s operations department.
Council endorsed the proposed criteria at its regular meeting on Jan. 12.
The town has been working for quite some time to consolidate the public works and parks department into a single operational unit. Currently, both departments operate separately at Jones Street Parks Yard and Fern Road Public Works Yard. Director of planning and community development Luke Sales indicated this does not meet current health and safety standards and is not efficient for operations.
“Building a centralized operations facility would benefit the town and its residents by providing essential services more efficiently, co-ordinating critical responses, streamlining resources and equipment, enhancing collaboration and working relationships among staff, and allowing space for expansion of services as the town’s population and needs expand,” said Sales.
Expanding the Jones Street yard was recommended by staff as the ideal location but some residents strongly opposed it as it will require a number of trees to be chopped down and the park trail will also be impacted.
Sales provided council information of potential sites and scenarios that include just upgrading existing buildings and facilities; expansion west of the Jones Street Parks Yard; constructing a new combined operations building adjacent to the existing parks building while continuing to use the public works yard for storage and vehicle maintenance; town lands on Garden Road E,; 865 Ravensbourne Lane; and triangular parcel at the end of Ravensbourne Lane.
The criteria that will be used to select the ideal site Sales explained included a prerequisite to the decision-making process.
“Regardless of which location is chosen, continuity of operations is an essential ingredient,” said Sales. “So in other words, the town can’t just cease operations while these facilities are being upgraded. If a scenario doesn’t allow for convenient and effective continuity of operations, it will be struck and eliminated from the list.”
Sales said the criteria has been established to make council and residents aware on how potential sites would be evaluated. They include capital costs for construction and servicing; operational cost that includes travel to and from works sites to the efficiency and operation of the building; Greenhouse gas emission and environment impact; and community impact.
In reaching a decision, council will take into account input from town operations staff, the comprehensive municipal service review and public input.
The Qualicum Beach Airport, which was not included in the staff’s potential site list, was discussed by councillors Scott Harrison and Robert Filmer.
Filmer said past discussions with provincial officials indicated a possibility of using the site for the public works and parks yard. Coun. Teunis Westbroek made a successful motion to direct staff to work with the provincial government to find out whether the town can use the south airport land for town’s operations. Council also agreed to add south airport lands to the potential site lists for evaluation.
Council has opted to hire a consultant, cost $100,000, to see oversee the site selection evaluation process. Sales said hiring a consultant would establish a neutral third-party evaluation system that some residents are more comfortable with.