EDITORIAL: Final facts on Sechelt’s AAP

Based on the number of confused and confusing comments we are getting about the District of Sechelt’s planned operations centre project, and the Alternative Approval Process that expires in about one week, a final restatement of the facts might be helpful.

Any local government initiative involving an AAP is always a source of confusion, but the spirited pitch to council by the Sechelt and District Chamber of Commerce, though no doubt well intentioned, has added an extra layer. Since council has shown no interest in repurposing the land on which the municipal hall currently sits to create workforce housing, and there is no interest in relocating the municipal hall to Dusty Road, the chamber’s idea of using funds from the suggested land sale to finance a new municipal complex in East Porpoise Bay is a complete red herring. It has nothing to do with the AAP or the project itself.

Recently compared to the Taj Mahal, the proposed operations building continues to be a subject of wild conjecture. Many details have been reported in these pages, but a full description can be found on the District of Sechelt website (sechelt.ca). Simply click on the box for “Alternative Approval Process” and you’ll find a project description (“envisioned amenities include a mezzanine, equipment bay, work bays, office spaces, workstation areas and a meeting/training room). There are also links to the selected proposal and the staff report reviewing the preliminary draft design, complete with pictures. Further down are budgeted project costs.

The bottom of the web page explains what an AAP is, how it works, and how to submit an Elector Response Form if you are an eligible voter in the District of Sechelt and opposed to the district borrowing $3 million for the $3.8-million project (estimated). More than 10 per cent of eligible voters must submit forms to stop council from proceeding or forcing it to a referendum. The threshold in Sechelt is pegged at 860 electors.

If you want to vote against the borrowing, forms are available on the district website, at the municipal hall from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday, in the lobby outside the Sechelt library during business hours, or can be emailed on request. They can be submitted in person at municipal hall, by mail, email or fax.

Completed and signed forms must be submitted by 4 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 26.

You don’t have to own property to be eligible to submit a form, but if you do own property, this debt will add more than $30 a year to the average residential tax bill for the next 20 years. If you think it’s not worth it, this is your chance to say so.

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