Public Safety Building: 2023 project FAQs

  1. Should Council choose to build a PSB that focusses on Fire Services, what might this look like and what are the associated costs?

HCMA Architecture + Design has done a preliminary design for a PSB that excludes police but has an Emergency Operations Centre, programmable space and CRD office space (as required by the amenity fund agreement).  The new building would be designed using existing programming, such that it will result in a PSB suitable for Township Fire Rescue operations for the next 50 years. CORE Project Management is prepared to provide Council a presentation on the proposed building with estimated costing.

 The project is expected to be able to be completed within existing budgets, however further work will need to be done to have a more clear idea of costing.

  1. What is the rationale for staff’s June 2023 project recommendations?

Staff do not recommend cancelling the Public Safety Building project. The current temporary fire hall is expected to meet Fire Services needs for 5-7 years, but a decision on a long-term plan to house Fire Services is needed at this time. VicPD’s current and near-term needs are being met by the facility on the ground floor of Municipal Hall.

Staff also do not recommend proceeding with the project as originally scoped and designed (Option 2) nor do staff recommend proceeding with a reduced project scope for the Public Safety Building (Options 1A/1B).  The Township’s capital reserves fund its annual capital infrastructure projects across all service areas, including facilities, parks, transportation and roads, sanitary sewers, and storm sewers.  Based on the current 5-year financial plan, there is an anticipated balance of approximately $5.2M available for capital infrastructure renewal.  Though long-term asset management plans have not yet been completed for the Township, staff assess that current reserve balances are not high enough to support medium- and long-term infrastructure needs.  The Township’s capital reserve balance would need to be significantly higher before staff would consider recommending proceeding with the Public Safety Building project as originally scoped and designed (Option 2) or a Public Safety Building with reduced scope options (Options 1A/1B). 

A redefined Public Safety Building project that limits the development of a facility to the southern portion of the property appears to be a way for the Township to meet its immediate operational needs.  A Public Safety Building that houses Fire Services as well as an EOC and community/CRD space would meet the Township’s commitments with respect to the CRD McLaughlin Amenity Funds, while also providing an opportunity for the Township to explore development options for the northern portion of the property fronting Esquimalt Road.

  1. What is the status of the Amenity Funds and will the CRD be satisfied with the Township’s use of those funds?

An analysis of the agreement shows that the funds expended by the Township have been fully in compliance with the agreement. Staff anticipate completing the reporting requirements to CRD soon.

  1. What are the options relating to the Indenture on the northern part of the lot?

While there are several options in dealing with the indenture on a portion of the northern part of the lot, some preliminary design work shows that the parcel of land likely can be used for its intended public purpose if the option of developing the northern part of the lot is treated as a separate project from the Public Safety Building. 

  1. What are the requirements and options for public assent for obtaining additional funding to complete the PSB as originally designed? 

There are two methods available to Council to receive electoral support for additional borrowing.  They are the Alternate Approval Process (AAP) and a Referendum.

  • Alternative Approval Process 

An AAP was used to receive voter assent for the original borrowing of $35 million for the construction of the PSB.  An AAP process involves asking the electorate to voice their objections only if they are opposed to borrowing a specified sum. An AAP could be conducted in approximately 60 days from start to finish.  An AAP can be incorporated into current staff work plans and would cost approximately $10,000 to $15,000, including staff time, advertising and communications and other associated costs. 

  • Assent Voting (Referendum) 

Conducting assent voting is comparable to holding an election.  It has similar requirements for advertising, advance voting, elections equipment and ballots, appointment of a Chief Election Officer, reporting, and more.  It is likely that staff will be unable to complete this work within current work plans which would necessitate the hiring of a Chief Election Officer.  Legal advice will also be required on the development of an appropriate question and to ensure procedural compliance.  If Council wishes to proceed with borrowing additional funds to build the PSB as originally proposed, a loan authorization bylaw would be required which would form the basis of the assent voting question. 

According to the Province, the timeline for fulfilling the loan authorization requirements can take more than 8 months to complete the assent voting and, if affirmed, obtain all required approvals to proceed with security issuing of the additional funds. 

It is estimated that the referendum process will cost approximately $100,000 to $150,000, in addition to the construction costs that are expected to escalate during any periods of delay. 

  1. What are the options for the north part of the lot if Council chooses to build a reduced scope PSB on the south side of the lot?

There are many options for the north side of the lot.  Should Council choose to explore options to develop the north side of the lot, staff recommend that this exploration be treated as a new project independent of the PSB project.  The remaining portion of the lot is suitably sized to build another project.  There are many ways this can be approached from a private/public partnership, with commercial development, or housing or any other combination.  The development of a project of this type will take a considerable amount of time and consultation to arrive at suitable options for Council’s consideration.

10. When would construction begin?

It is anticipated that construction will begin in 6 to 8 months.

11. What are next steps?

Design of new facility is next.  

12. How will we ensure there won’t be cost overruns this time that will again jeopardize the project?

That was the purpose of this change of direction.  However, in this environment, nothing is certain.

More information

  1. June 12 Committee of the Whole: Public Safety Building Staff Report No. CSS-23-006
  2. June 12 presentation to council by CORE and Committee of the Whole discussion on video
  3. May 8 Council Meeting: Staff Report No. CSS-23-005 Request for Direction Public Safety Building Project - Project Update and Governance Review