Fire hall referendum won’t be held June 21 as council originally planned

By on March 19, 2014
The present fire hall next to the town hall on Main Street doesn’t meet the needs of this community, according to a study commissioned in 2007. Osoyoos plans to hold a referendum on June 21 to allow local residents a chance to vote on a new fire hall. If the referendum is approved, construction would likely start within weeks. (Richard McGuire file photo)

The present fire hall next to the town hall on Main Street doesn’t meet the needs of this community, according to a study commissioned in 2007. Osoyoos planed to hold a referendum on June 21 to allow local residents a chance to vote on a new fire hall., but that referendum has been postponed. If the referendum is approved, construction would likely start within weeks. (Richard McGuire file photo)

The referendum to build a new fire hall for the Town of Osoyoos won’t be held on the first day of summer after all.

At the last meeting of town council on March 3, members of council stated their goal of holding the referendum to build a new fire hall as quickly as possible and announced its stated intention was to hold the referendum on Saturday, June 21.

At that meeting in early March, council was provided with a detailed report on the actions and time frame needed to implement the fire hall referendum within the stated direction of council, which was to hold the referendum between the long weekend in May and end of June.

Barry Romanko, the town’s chief administrative officer, told members of council on Monday that administration was working to meet the stated time lines, but needed “Class B estimates” from the architectural firm that has been hired to design the new fire hall that could be used in the proposed borrowing bylaw to pay for the project.

“The architects were working to have the estimates the first week in March to facilitate our time lines,” said Romanko. “Prior to the estimates being provided, a meeting was held with the architects, contractors, administration and the fire department to review the developed drawings.

“Acceptance of these drawings by all parties would result in the development of the Class B estimate within the stated time frames and enable the borrowing bylaw process.”

This additional work has created a situation where administration is not able to bring a borrowing bylaw before council on March 17 and won’t allow for the referendum to be held on June 21, said Romanko.

Administration hasn’t received any estimate of when the additional actions will be completed, therefore, it can’t help develop a new referendum implementation schedule, said Romanko.

Administration is hopeful all additional information can be provided by early April so that a new referendum date can be approved by council, he said.

All members of council agreed it would be best to wait for the new information before establishing a new date for the referendum.

Options suggested by staff included holding the referendum in July or August, holding a fall referendum in mid to late September of holding it concurrently with the municipal referendum in November.

Coun. Sue McKortoff said this is too important an issue to proceed with until all parties have proper information and she was in favour of not setting a new date for the fire hall referendum until all costing estimates and other pertinent information is available.

“I agree that we should wait for more information and be ready to move quickly once we receive that information,” she said.

Mayor Stu Wells said it’s important that all local residents know the June 21 date for the referendum has been pulled and that a new date will be set as quickly as possible.

Coun. Mike Plante said “this is too important an issue” to not have all the pertinent information available and local residents won’t mind a slight delay in holding the referendum once it’s explained final cost estimates aren’t available due to tight time lines.

If the referendum can’t be held until after this summer, Plante suggested he would like it to be held as part of the municipal elections in November as that might save local taxpayers a few dollars,

“The most important thing is we have to have the right information in place” before setting the referendum date, said Plante. “Everyone will have what they need on the table before voting on this.”

Coun. C. J. Rhodes agreed.

“I feel it’s very important to get it right … even if we have to pull the (June 21) date,” he said.

KEITH LACEY

Osoyoos Times

 

 

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