On Dec. 18 Sechelt council gave three readings to a $35.8 million budget that would draw more than $7 million from reserves and surplus accounts, but not increase taxes in 2014.
The balanced budget would pay for some big-ticket items like a new $1 million facility to house the parks and public works department in addition to spending more than $16 million to complete the new wastewater treatment plant.
One contentious item, the building of a roundabout at Dolphin Street and Trail Avenue, was pulled from the 2014 budget before council gave their approval.
Staff had changed the roundabout design to forego some sidewalk work, reducing the price tag from $697,000 to $400,000, but the majority of council wanted to see that money held in reserves for future needs.
“I’ve heard abundantly clear in this community right now as it stands the $400,000 for upgrades to Dolphin and Trail, the intersections, is just not palatable at this point in time for the community,” Coun. Doug Hockley said, adding, “I know that roundabouts work. I just don’t think now is the time for roundabouts.”
With the roundabout item extracted from the budget, council was unanimously in favour of giving it three readings.
Although a source of much discussion, council did not direct any more funds to the Davis Bay Wharf expansion in the 2014 budget.
“I think we’re all supportive of the wharf construction. It’s just the devil is in how do we get it done? So maybe we can direct staff to bring something back to us in January on where is the fundraising at and what is the timeline to achieve completion by the end of July,” said Mayor John Henderson.
Council was in favour of the move for more information, with Coun. Chris Moore noting he’d like to see the wharf built in the summer of 2014.
Council released in-camera documents Wednesday night showing they have committed to spend $12,000 on a firm to help them lobby the federal government for funding.
Fleishman Hillard Canada was hired at $6,000 a month to help the District in December and January.
“We’ve been encouraged to approach the federal government for funding related to the airport and so this is a firm that comes highly recommended and is well known to some of us anyways to help us access the halls of power in Ottawa to hopefully get some money to help us build the airport,” Henderson said. “Current plan, we’ve got to fund $5 million roughly for the airport.”
Before hiring Fleishman Hillard Canada, the District used the services of Earnscliffe Strategy Group to try to leverage money for airport development from the provincial government.
“The contract with Earnscliffe has expired and we have not renewed it,” Henderson said. “We are continuing, of course, to pursue the province, but Earnscliffe was a big help in getting us to some important people and we have meetings with those people next month. So we’re not using them now but we are now adding some attention to the Federal side.”
South Coast Ford
South Coast Ford will expand their footprint in the New Year with a 705 square metre addition where a landscaping business formerly operated next door on Wharf Road.
The company acquired the property earlier this year and had their development permit for the build approved by council on Wednesday night.
The addition will include a new service department, washing and detailing bays, a customer lounge area and various storage rooms and offices. A new storefront will also be developed to create a cohesive look for the building.