- BC Games
West Van council debates Public Safety Building funding
The question of whether West Vancouver’s new Public Safety Building should be funded by raising taxes or selling off district-owned land fueled heated debate at a council meeting on Monday evening.
The $36-million combined police and fire hall will sit next to district hall on 17th Street in Ambleside, replacing the aging police department on the 1300-block of Marine Drive and the main fire hall. Construction is slated to begin early next year.
One option for funding is to use money from the sale of the 1300-block to Grosvenor, a deal that won’t be officially finalized until the developer can make a deal with the district on building height, density and other details.
Or property taxes can be raised, an idea that originally made council weary but came back into play Monday evening.
“We hired a project manager to run the project, which was to sell the existing police building and other lands on the 1300-block, take the money and build a new [Public Safety] building at no cost to the taxpayer and no increase in taxes,” said Mayor Michael Smith.
“That was very clear to everybody, that was how it was being paid for.”
But Coun. Nora Gambioli said relating using money from the sale of the 1300-block for the new police and fire hall is a “serious conflict.”
“I don’t want them to be related, they’ve never been related in my mind,” she said.
The sale of district-owned land in combination with a tax increase is a better option for funding the Public Safety Building, said Coun. Craig Cameron.
“We [would] take $36 million from the 1300-block, which is land which is an appreciating asset, and we buy a depreciating asset which is the Public Safety Building. In 30 years it’s worth a fraction of what it’s worth now,” he said, adding future West Van residents will be left with no money in the endowment fund from the sale.
A good alternative, he said, is to raise property taxes so people who benefit from the facility are the ones paying for it.
District staff has been tasked with reporting back to council with a list of implications of raising taxes.