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Osoyoos fire hall referendum vote set for June 21
It’s all but certain local residents will vote on whether or not they support building a new $5.6-million fire hall on the first day of summer.
Town of Osoyoos council is expected to pass a borrowing bylaw to pay for the proposed $5.6-million new fire hall at the next meeting of council on March 17. That will clear the way to hold the referendum on the new fire hall on Saturday, June 21.
Because of provincial legislation and council’s preferred date to hold the referendum before summer starts, council must pass the borrowing bylaw at its next meeting on March 17, said chief administrative officer Barry Romanko during a presentation to town council on Monday.
The Local Government Act sets out the process for municipal elections and other voting, including referendums, said Romanko.
To ensure the June 21 referendum is held, council must agree to three things at its March 17 meeting, he said.
Those include giving three readings to the borrowing bylaw to pay for the fire hall, setting the official wording of the question for the referendum and appointing the chief election officer and deputy chief election officer, said Romanko.
If all of this is done, a certified copy of the borrowing bylaw at third reading must be sent to the Inspector of Municipalities for approval.
A covering letter will be required advising the referendum date would be June 21 and, therefore, inspector approval must be received on April 2 in order to meet requirements under the act, said Romanko.
The province has been informed this bylaw is coming and of the town’s intentions to hold its fire hall referendum on June 21, said Romanko.
Once the province gives final approval, ballots and memory cards can be ordered and further process with regard to referendum scrutineer notices, staff hiring and training and other notifications will proceed, he said.
The required advance voting day will be held on June 11, he said.
If the borrowing bylaw doesn’t receive three readings in time for the province to give approval on April 2, the June 21 referendum date can not be achieved, he said.
“We’re dealing with very tight time lines here,” said Romanko.
Mayor Stu Wells said council is prepared to take all steps necessary to hold the referendum on June 21.
If the majority of local residents vote in favour of building a new fire hall, tenders would be issued immediately and construction would begin within weeks.
Holding the referendum after June 21 would mean construction likely wouldn’t start until the fall and that’s not what members of council would like to see happen, said Wells.
If local citizens reject building a new fire hall during the referendum, staff would have to prepare a detailed report relating to current services and how fire services could best be managed from the current site on Main Street right next door to town hall.