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October 27, 2017 6:06 pm

Public Works Yard Renovations Explained

Saturday, April 8, 2017 @ 6:59 AM

Renovations would take place in the building in background, right at 4050 18th Avenue. Photo 250News

Prince George, B.C. – City Council last month elected to go the Alternate Approval route in seeking authority from taxpayers to borrow money for five projects contained within the Capital Plan.

One of the authorizations sought is for the borrowing of $1,450,000 for the Public Works Yard Development project.  That project, as detailed by City staff, is to integrate the Parks Division into the main Engineering and Public Works building (which for clarification we will refer to as the “old” building) where Roads, Fleet, Engineering and Civic Facilities are located.  It also includes enlarging the change room/washroom facilities to include Parks outside works and create office space for Parks administrative staff.

You may recall that in 2011 the City wanted to borrow $3 million to construct a new office building at the 18th Avenue yard and move the Utilities group, including Parks along with Shops and Vehicles which were then at the 4th Avenue yard to 18th, completing the consolidation of the Transportation and Utilities divisions.

The original plan in 2011 was to borrow up to $3 million and construct a 13,240 square-foot “new” building.  However, the members of the Council at that time decided to scale things back and sought, and received, approval to borrow $2 million for a 10,000-square-foot building.

Administrative staff moved from 4th Avenue into the building in mid-January, 2013 with the remainder of the employees following in stages in February that year.

Council is now seeking to borrow three-quarters of the cost of that new building to make further changes in the 18th Avenue yard.  Mayor Lyn Hall says “currently the Parks and Solid Waste Division are working out of portable trailers that are on the northeast corner of the Public Works yard and those trailers are quite old, roughly fifteen to twenty years old.”

“So what they’re going to do is move those folks into the existing main Public Works (old) building on 18th and they’re going to expand the change rooms, washroom facilities and create office space for the Parks and Solid Waste folks.”

Hall says “it’s quite an expenditure and anytime you’re taking a look at trying to revamp buildings, add to them and re-structure, you’re into it for fairly large dollars.”
Asked if Parks and Solid Waste wasn’t supposed to have been included in the 2013 move Mayor Hall says “Parks and Solid Waste stayed in those trailers and didn’t make the move.  There were other departments that moved into the new facility and they didn’t so that’s why the (borrowing) request now.”

The mayor was asked whether taxpayers are having to pay now for the previous decision to cut back on the original plan for the “new” building at 18th Avenue.  “Well I don’t think of necessarily a decision that was changed back then.  We are asking taxpayers to inform us and give us their position on whether or not we move forward with the $1.4 million.”

“Originally the thought of this project was around $3 million in 2013 but came in well under that.  So we understand that we have a health and safety issue in those portables with those folks and we need to get them moved.  And if we can do it within that budget and get them into existing facilities with what will turn out to be some fairly significant renovations then we’ll see what the public has to say about that.”
Regarding the number of employees who would be affected if the project goes ahead Hall says “the number of Parks employees fluctuates throughout the year but probably to a maximum of about 50 during the summer.”  He says that takes in the period from about mid-April to the end of September with perhaps about half of those workers being students.

The borrowing of the $1,450,000 would result in annual debt servicing costs of $97,463 to the General Fund over 20 years, with an interest rate of 3.00% and a sinking fund rate of 3.00%.

The  $2 million covering the 2011 project also had a 20-year term.


Once again we get the double speak on a project. All of a sudden we have a health and safety issue. I get a little tired of Council using the safety issue to bolster their arguments for borrowing money, etc;. If in fact there is a health and safety issue, perhaps they could explain when it first came to light and how long have they allowed employee’s to work under those conditions.

Seems to me that when they built the new office buildings on 18th they were going to sell the property on 4th avenue to offset the costs of the new building. Perhaps someone would like to explain to us how the **sale** is going, how much money was generated, and where it was spent.

We need to take a serious look at all this borrowing and at what it will cost us over the years. It seems like as we pay off old debt, ie; the CN Centre, Civic Centre, Swimming pools, etc; we find new projects to borrow money for, and **Walla** we are back in debt up to our butts.

We long overdue for a statement from City Hall as to how they are going to control, and reduce costs of running this City. The constant spending of every available dollar, and the creation of projects to get matching money, only puts us farther and farther into the hole, along with higher taxes.

Time for a change of attitude at City Hall .

    We are the second most in debt city in BC after only Vancouver. It’s absolutely rediculous how this city goes to debt for everything. They all think spend lots in debt now because they won’t be here for the long term. If one compares to cities on the island almost all of them have little to no long term debt… The money saved on servicing debt goes to beautifying the city and keeping taxes down.

    So it appears as though PG just has no qualms about going to debt for everything because after all most of our civil servants at city hall never retire here, and often relocate after a rich retirement to those other cities that didn’t manage to pay for everything with debt. Even our last few mayors didn’t stick around after leaving office.

No transparency means zero trust with this latest council and mayor. Spending like there is no tomorrow, zero efforts to increase the tax population. How long do they think this can continue?

Another case in point is the **new** police station on 4th Avenue. There was a lot of resistance to the City borrowing $38/40 million for this project, and along with interest we are looking a roughly $78 million over 20 years.

The City stated as part of its argument for a new building that there was health issues involved. (Where have we heard that line before) They further stated that they would sell the old building and the proceeds from the sale would go towards off setting the cost of the new building.

Perhaps the City would like to tell us how the **sale** is going, and when we can expect some money to be put to reducing the cost of the new building.

We are being bamboozeled and manipulated by the City when it comes to borrowing, or planning new projects etc; Its all done behind closed doors, and we only get access to information after the decision is made internally. Then they pretend that we are part of the process.

I think that we can use the location of the new transit building as a case in point. The only Councillor asking the hard questions is Councillor Merrick. The rest are in lock step.

We need to know when the City bought the property in question, what was the purpose of the purchase, what other areas were considered for the location, how long has the City and BC Transit been working (behind closed doors) on the project.

Did the City buy this property specifically for the transit location??

Get out and cast your vote at the AAP, if they lose enough of the projects with the AAP maybe they will scrap that and start going straight to referendums instead.

We need to cut our municipal work force instead of giving them fancy new offices. 60 million dollars in salaries and growing!

There are a lot of wants in this life both personally and corporately as a City. But with those wants, there comes the position of “reality”, which dictates the wants and puts them into proper perspective. So when is City Council going to consider the “reality” to the tax payers of this City? This City is taxing people out of their homes. Look at the taxes, look at the utility costs (I mean we are recycling plastic and paper/cardboard every two weeks) We haven’t see that reflected in utility charges. Case in point is, when is the city going to consider it’s tax base? When is the city going to act responsibly with the hard working tax payers of this city?

Where does one vote ..AAP.

    city hall

With this town losing population year after year and city hall well overstaffed with managers, directors, communications people and others, I suggest its time they started trimming down that end to find the money for some of these pet projects. I mean, why can’t managers and directors speak for themselves instead of having to put it through to a “speaker” for them. Can’t come off convincingly enough on their own?

If the original office building came in well under their budget, that sort of indicates they should have money left over for this new project, doesn’t it?

    the extra will probably go to Queen Jullian’s bike lanes repaint for those pedestrians who use them while her buddy bikers are on the sidewalks

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