The City of Kelowna, B.C., is hoping to borrow a colossal amount of money for recreational construction projects across the community.
In order to borrow the money, it needs voter approval and to do that it’s using what is called the Alternative Approval Process (AAP).
Global News spoke with several Kelowna residents who were either unaware the city was going through an AAP right now or were unaware on how it works.
“I heard about it on the news with you guys,” said Kelowna resident Glenna Turnbull. “I am very against it; I think it is ridiculous. I wanted to download the form, but I don’t have a printer so I couldn’t.”
“An Alternative Approval Process? I do not know what that is,” said Kelowna resident Jules Ke. “If it was advertised to me in a more concise matter, instead of me just finding out about it now, I believe I would vote yes.”
“No, I’ve never heard of that,” said Kelowna resident Thea White. “I do support, though, expanding and upgrading the recreational centres.”
The city is currently using the AAP to get approval to borrow $241 million to build a brand-new facility to replace the aging Parkinson Recreation Centre (PRC) as well as upgrade and replace several other rec amenities across the community.
“It’s a form of elector approval for the borrowing — so the project is borrowing just over $240 million in support of the redevelopment of PRC and other recreation centres,” said Kelowna Deputy City Clerk Laura Bentley.
“And to approve of that borrowing it requires what is called electoral approval. The APP means that those who are opposed to the borrowing have to submit that response form.”
Back in June, city council voted in favour of using the AAP, instead of going to a referendum, to borrow the funds.
According to Bentley, the city looked at a number of factors before making the decision to use the AAP.
“Cost effectiveness and timeliness are some of those factors as well as convenience for the public,” said Bentley.
“So rather than coming to prescribed voting locations on select few days, members of the public can do this at any time during the AAP, access the information and fill out that form and return it to us.”
And with only a week and a half left before the deadline, the clock is ticking for those against borrowing the money for the massive project.
It would take 10 per cent of eligible voters in Kelowna to vote against borrowing the money for it to be defeated. In this case, that means around 12,160 people would have to vote no.
“You have to be 18 years or older, a Canadian citizen, a resident of BC for at least 6 months, and a resident of Kelowna,” added Bentley, “and then complete the form with your full name, your residential address and your signature.”
However, the city’s decision to use the AAP has sparked some controversy and confusion.
One Kelowna woman has made it her goal to inform as many residents as possible about the city’s plan to use the AAP.
“I’m going out into the city every day, to different areas of the city, letting people know that the City of Kelowna has given itself permission to borrow $241 million without a referendum,” said Kelowna resident, Renee Del Colle in September.
“A lot of people don’t even know this is happening, and they’re completely confused.”
Del Colle went on to say that she is not opposed to the city wanting to upgrade some of the recreation amenities, however, is concerned about the way the city is trying to do it, and the costs associated.
“The Alternative Approval Process — I don’t understand how it even was considered for this project. It’s not appropriate for the biggest capital expenditure that Kelowna’s ever going to undertake,” said Del Colle.
“It’s not appropriate to use the AAP for something that’s going to take 30 years to pay back through property and business taxes.”
More information and the forms are available on the City of Kelowna website and the deadline to vote against the AAP is Friday, Oct. 13 at 4:00 p.m.
If enough people vote no to borrowing the money, council would then have two options either scrap the project or go to a referendum.