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October 27, 2017 7:04 pm

Referendum Likely for Firehall and Four Seasons Replacement Projects

Friday, February 3, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

Prince George, B.C. – Two major  projects on the Capital Plan   could see a referendum  held  before either can move forward.The City has selected a site for  a new Fire hall #1 ,   on property  east of the YMCA on Massey Drive.

Mayor Lyn Hall  says there has been a great deal of discussion about  Fire Hall #1  because it doesn’t  provide adequate  coverage for the  community.  The location  would  improve access to  industrial  development on the south side  of the City  “That’s a key piece for me,  that’s about safety” said Mayor Hall.

The estimated cost of replacement is $15 million dollars and   the full cost  would be covered by  debt.

Then there  is the issue of the Four Season’s Pool.    The cost of replacing that  pool  has been estimated at  $35 million dollars, again the full cost of the project  would be  covered by  debt.

Council has approved  both  projects  in the Capital plan,   but neither  can  move  forward until eligible voters have  had their say  on  whether or not the City  can borrow the money.

Here is how borrowing the full amount  for both pojects would impact the average home owner:

Because  the  length of the terms  for the loans ,  the City requires  approval  either  through the alternate approval process or a referendum.

Council seems to be leaning towards  holding a referendum  to ask the  taxpayers  if they would support carrying  the debt  for the two projects.

“The reason I am  supporting going to a referendum   is that it is in keeping with the direction of this Council  when it comes to community consultation and TalkTober” said  Councillor Garth Frizzell.

Council has approved the legislative Services budget for 2017 which was increased by $100 thousand dollars  to cover the costs of a referendum should Council decide to take that route  in order to move forward with  both projects.  If a vote is to be held,  it wouldn’t likely take place until late 2017, as plans  and  detailed budgets would  need to be developed  in order  to  present  a  bylaw that would  lay out the specific amount to be borrowed.





I like the idea of moving forward with these 2 projects. But for the pool, I hope the City builds onto the Aquatic Centre and gives us something that’s a real showpiece for the City. If they were to go ahead and rebuild by the current 4 seasons, then it’s going to be just a basic pool with limited parking.

Put the 2 pools together and make it something great. The family experience would be so much better. You could have people that are into competitive swimming/diving take their family out and they could enjoy the rest of a really good facility and not fight to find a parking spot.

If they did this they could demolish the 4 seasons and make a better parking lot for the Civic Centre and the Spruce Kings arena…..sounds like a no brainer!!!!

    The new pool would be located in some other area of the city. At this point in time we do not know where. In any event the old pool would remain open until the new pool is built and then it would be torn down,. The same would apply to the new fire hall.

I would like to see Firehall #1 refurbished and another hall built in a different location to add to the coverage in the city .

    We presently have four fire halls in the city. I doubt that we need additional coverage until such time as the city grows, which at this point in time is highly unlikely,.

Are we not already paying $15 million a year in debt repayment? There has to be a better solution out there.

Well, it is about time City council asks residents how/what to spend our city taxes on. The residents in the city are continually asked for more and more every year. Our wages sure do not increase like this every year.

I think that it is time that we move forward with building the new pool and fire hall. This is a huge expenditure, and I agree 100% that this should go to a referendum so that those who are paying the taxes have an opportunity to voice their opinion,.

There are a number of things that we need to do to reduce the cost of borrowing.

1. If we borrow this money for 20 years we save $9,231,467.00 in interest costs over the 25 year option, and will get this off the books five years sooner.

2. We need the city to look into using infrastructure funds from the Federal and Provincial Government to reduce the amount we need to borrow.

3. We need the city to look into every nook and cranny in the cities operations to find money to reduce the amount that needs to be borrowed. Reducing operating costs of the city would go a long way to reduce the cost of this project to taxpayers.

4. Borrowing the money is easy and requires no effort on the part of the city administration, however reducing costs and coming up with savings to offset the cost of borrowing requires some time and effort. I would expect to see city administration come up with a significant amount of savings.

We are missing information in the table …..

We have current debts …

1. what are they, itemized?

2. when are each of the itemized items paid off?

3. what are the savings as each items is paid off?

The City continues to provide only part information. I do not know what it takes to get full disclosure from the City. Absolutely unacceptable!!!!

    gopg2015. Put Finance City of Prince George BC in your search engine. Scroll down to Annual Reports section and click on

    **Financial overview, financial statements, and permissive tax exemptions.

    This will give you all the information you need.

    Go to schedule 11 and you will get a schedule of Long-term Debt-General Capital Fund.

    You will see that the Multiplex Centre was paid off June 1/16
    Aquatic Centre will be paid off Mar 24/18. etc; etc;

      Thanks. I am used to key word searches.

      The city has a system used for paper libraries. Very archaic. The Google search engine 250 news uses is superior.

BTW, I tried to get the info on the CIty’s web site ….. I spent 2 minutes putting in a number of obvious key words …. totally useless web site when it comes to looking for something so obvious!!

Maybe someone else can try and point us to the page

Above all else, get decent contractors who can build properly. As much local contractors as possible and no bids from out of province. Biggest fiasco ever was when they built the jail. Alberta contractor equals all wooden doors warped, leaky condo big time issue, sketchy computer company installation, and on and on it went. And the build got inflated way out of proportion because the gov’t morons, like usual, accepted the lowest bid! Taxpayers got nailed hugely. So the city needs to do it right, not Mickey Mouse like the Aquatic Center.

Let the tax payers have a say…how strange..and thank you ..”likely” bothers me a bit I must admit

    I agree P Val. Looks like they are reading the tea leafs, and holding a damp finger in the wind to see which way the wind is blowing.

    We need to move from likely to WILL hold a referendum.

I say build the new swimming pool on the north side of town- in the Hart area! The West Side has focused on shopping- big box stores galore, so why not build the Hart as the fitness side? There is lots of land next to the Elksenter Ice Rink AND lots of parking.

    Not enough people live in the Hart. The new pool should be in the bowl which is central. The 4 seasons pool is where the majority of swimming lessons take place. A large segment of PG’s population lives on the west end of town. Asking them to drive 30 minutes each way for a 30 minute swim lesson isn’t ideal. People live in the Hart because it’s quiet and property is more affordable. Putting a pool up there will affect both. I agree that whatever location is chosen needs to have lots of room for parking.

      I consider the location of the Aquatic Center to be in the “Bowl”. It’s also just at the bottom of University Hill, no more than 10 minutes from College Heights. You can’t get anymore central than that. If there is not enough swimming lesson times at the Aquatic Center, then the program needs to be adjusted to suite this.

I heard through the grapevine that a few years ago a consulting firm studied the City’s fire coverage and recommended that a fifth fire hall should be located in the BCR site.
I cannot verify this, it is only what I heard.

    By locating the new hall behind the YMCA and close to highway 16 they will be closer to the BCR Industrial site and this should meet all the recommendations of the consultants report, and the insurance companies.

      One of the reasons for the BCR site is that it is closer to the airport area as well as the future build up of Boundary Rd.

      Adjacent to the Y does not have that advantage.

      If you build it in the BCR site you would be beyond the area that gives business a better insurance rate. I think the best rates are given to business located within 7Km of a fire hall. So as you move South to the BCR you get further away from the downtown, and those business’s down town would get an increase in their insurance.

      Having it located by the YMCA keeps both areas within the jurisdiction of station No. 1

I wonder if the city could partner with the YMCA? I know they’ve thrown the idea of a pool around for years but nothing ever came of it. Would save if the upfront costs.

Use the city’s GIS system to determine the location.

We definitely need an updated fire hall and I am all for it I do not mind paying the debt on that as that hall has outlived its usefulness and a new hall will live up to future needs including expansion of the city and population growth

As to the 4 seasons pool I think we would be better served retro fitting the pool rather than doing a complete new building as a refurbishment will extend the life of the pool by up to 15 years by which then new options could be looked at in 7-10 years down the road.

Are both projects lumped together, or can they be voted on separately?

    They are separate projects requiring the citizens to vote on both before the city can proceed with each project

      Two separate projects, however they can both be voted on with the same referendum. I suspect that the borrowing will be lumped together so you will have to go all or nothing.

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