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LETTER: New operations centre too costly for Saanich taxpayers


According to a 2022 KPMG report commissioned by Saanich, more than $1 billion in capital spending has been approved by council over the next eight years, close to a quarter of that earmarked for a new operations centre (OC). KPMG states that, “The bulk of this investment, forecasted between 2026 and 2029, is anticipated to be financed through the tax levy, reserves and the issuance of additional debt.” Note to self: reserves and debt plus interest must be paid back by taxpayers. Also note: interest rates may rise over the next eight years.

KPMG says, “Total debt is projected to increase from $52 million in 2022 to $263 million in 2031 …. These are record levels of debt for the District.” We recently learned that Saanich will borrow $25 million to enable property acquisition for the OC.

Saanich says, “The facilities are outdated, pose health and safety concerns and are undersized when it comes to building code requirements, operational practices, and future growth needs.”

Saanich’s website warns of a “growing risk to effective and sustainable delivery of services” but doesn’t specify which services are at risk or the level of risk relative to the increase in taxes and rents. When property taxes increase, so do rents generally.

Saanich concedes that “the magnitude of the redevelopment project will require financial resources on a scale previously unseen by Saanich.”

A new OC might be nice, but is it a priority for taxpayers and worth the squeeze?

Many Saanich homes were built around the same time as the OC (’50s through the ’70s) and are in great shape, and will be for many decades, despite not meeting ever-changing building codes, etc.

Saanich assures us that “opportunities for public engagement at future stages of the project will be outlined in the business case.” Really? And to what end? In the meantime, KPMG advises that “between 2022 and 2031, the forecasted capital program of $1,028 million will result in large increases to the tax levy.”

Hold on to your wallets people – the local tax man cometh!

Mike Pankhurst