The city has received statutory approval from the province for a borrowing bylaw to rebuild fire station No. 1.
With the approval, the city can commence an alternative approval process to gain permission from residents to borrow $17 million. The process starts April 3 and will run for one month.
The fire station No. 1 borrowing bylaw 2018 No. 7257, which received three readings from city council on Feb. 19, would see the city borrow $17 million, repayable over 20 years. It is estimated the borrowing will result in a tax increase of 1.1 per cent for the average residential property.
The alternative approval process gives residents the opportunity to declare their opposition to borrowing the money.
“The voting or the process is open for the citizens of Nanaimo to declare, submit through written form, that they don’t agree with it and they would rather go to a referendum,” said Karen Fry, Nanaimo Fire Rescue chief, in an interview last month.
All residents eligible to vote in Nanaimo can take part in the alternative approval process. If 10 per cent of voters disagree with borrowing the money, that would force the issue to be brought back before city council to determine whether council wants to proceed with the project and what steps should be taken next.
The alternative approval process allows the city to gauge public approval for the project before spending approximately $2 million on design and other project preparation work.
Residents who do not wish to borrow the funds to rebuild fire station No. 1 may fill out an elector response form and hand it in or mail it to city hall.
Elector response forms will be available at all city locations, including city hall, the services and resource centre and at recreation centres. Electoral response forms are also available online for download at this link.
Forms can be mailed to the attention of the corporate officer, legislative services, Nanaimo City Hall, 455 Wallace St., Nanaimo, B.C., V9R 5J6. All forms must arrive by 4:30 p.m. on May 4.
More information on the alternative approval process will be released in the coming weeks. To stay up to date, visit www.nanaimo.ca/goto/AAP. A notice of the AAP with information will also appear in an upcoming print edition of the News Bulletin.
If the borrowing bylaw passes the alternative approval process, a design for the building is expected to be available by November and construction could begin in May 2019.