Central Saanich is taking the wise approach and focusing on long-term debt repayment in the wake of a $13 million expenditure on its new fire hall on Keating X Road — instead of adding to that debt by possibly building a new town hall.
However, it doesn’t take the powers of a psychic to predict that voters probably would have soundly kiboshed that town hall replacement plan in a proposed referendum next November. After spending millions on the new fire hall, public appetite for even more capital spending probably isn’t high.
Taxpayers throughout the Saanich Peninsula municipalities should be aware, however, that new town halls or at least upgraded ones, are on the Christmas wish lists of Sidney, North Saanich and Central Saanich.
While Central Saanich has been the one closest to advancing their plans for a new municipal hall, the strategic plans for Sidney and North Saanich include similar plans.
In the case of North Saanich, that planning starts with an engineering study of the state of the north wall of their municipal building. This has the potential to lead to a large capital expenditure down the road.
In Sidney, their long-term planning also calls for a feasibility study for a new town hall. In the immediate future, Sidney is investigating using school district property at the Sidney Elementary School to relocate its fire hall and ambulance service buildings.
These are big-ticket items for any municipality. While they are still in the planning phases, it’s prudent for both local community leaders and residents to clearly state their priorities for the new year and beyond.
In Central Saanich’s case, their plans for a new town hall are on hold as they ensure their financial house is in order. Their neighbours should ensure they do the same before embarking on costly construction.