Stage Set for Referendum
Prince George, B.C. – Council for the City of Prince George has passed the pieces necessary to move forward with one or both projects, pending the outcome of a referendum this fall.
Council has given the first three readings to the borrowing bylaws required for the borrowing of dollars for the construction of a new Four Seasons pool ($35 million) and a replacement for Fire Hall #1 ($15 million).
Council has also given a thumbs up to the specific questions that will be asked when voters cast their views in the referendum on October 28th.
“I think this is a really exciting project” said Councillor Jillian Merrick about the proposal for a new Four Seasons Pool.
The preferred site is the lot which is currently home to the Days Inn. The $35 million does not include the purchase price of the site, or preparation. Staff indicate the purchase price and demolition and preparation of the Days Inn site could cost about $6 million dollars. Staff will be working hard to secure grants to help ease that cost.
Merrick did raise a concern about the loss of public parking but was assured the change to angle parking on 5th Avenue has already increased parking stalls by 38%.
Mayor Lyn Hall, says he likes the idea of looking at the Days Inn site because without it, there would be no pool in the downtown for a couple of years as the existing site went through the process of demolition and reconstruction.
Councillor Frank Everitt says residents have made it clear they want a pool “We can’t live without it, and we can’t live with it”
Staff also informed Council the Four Seasons Pool needs $10 million dollars in upgrades should the referendum fail.
As for the Fire Hall #1, the proposed relocation to Massey Drive, next to the YMCA, is expected to improve emergency response by 50% say staff.
Unlike the pool, there is no land acquisition cost associated with this project. The $15 million includes furniture, fixtures, upgrades to Massey Drive and a contingency.
“I look forward to this as well” said Councillor Frank Everitt ” Because it’s about the safety of our citizens.”
“I think it’s important to note that council and staff take this situation very seriously” said Councillor Susan Scott, she says the amount of money at stake “Is not taken lightly.”
So, what happens if the referendum fails for one, or both? Staff say there will be a special meeting of Council set for October 30th, post referendum results, to seek direction from Council.