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City of Kelowna green lights plan to borrow $241M for upgrading rec facilities  

Click to play video: 'Concerns over borrowing millions for recreational projects'
Concerns over borrowing millions for recreational projects
The City of Kelowna has been given the green light to borrow millions of dollars to build and upgrade a number of recreational facilities, through an alternative approval process. As Victoria Femia reports it's a decision that thousands of people don't agree with, but not enough to stop the process – Oct 14, 2023

The City of Kelowna will go ahead with plans to borrow $241 million after a deadline expired to oppose the massive spending proposal.

Earlier this year, the city announced it wanted to upgrade several recreational facilities, including the aging Parkinson Rec Centre, but that the overall bill would be an estimated $287 million.

The construction of Glenmore and Mission Activity Centres and the redevelopment of the Rutland sports fields will also be included in the project.

To sidestep potential public opposition, the city initiated the controversial alternative approval process to seek authorization.

Click to play video: 'What is the alternative approval process?'
What is the alternative approval process?

The process allows municipalities to advance projects or ideas without public input — though there is a catch: if 10 per cent or more of local residents register opposition, it triggers a referendum.

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On Friday, the city said just 4,153 residents registered opposition, well below the 10 per cent of 12,000, meaning the city’s borrowing plans will go ahead.

In a news release late Friday evening, the city said, it received an insufficient number of valid elector responses by the deadline. Council will receive the AAP results and decide on proceeding with borrowing from the Municipal Finance Authority through the adoption of the Loan Authorization bylaw.

According to the city, the $241 million represents 84 per cent of the total project cost. To pay for that, the city says the average homeowner will see a bump in taxes of $20 a year for five years.

“Beyond the 5 years, there will be no further increases to taxation and the gradual increases will remain in base taxation for the remainder of the debt term,” said the city.

Click to play video: 'Kelowna looks to borrow money to pay for new road on south slopes'
Kelowna looks to borrow money to pay for new road on south slopes

More information about the average tax impact is available on the city’s website.

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Notably, the District of Summerland is looking to borrow $50 million to build a new recreation centre.

However, unlike Kelowna, the District told Global News that it isn’t using the alternative approval process and is going straight to the public by holding a referendum on Nov. 4.

Click to play video: 'Summerland hosts Aquatic Centre open house'
Summerland hosts Aquatic Centre open house

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