The Strathcona Regional District wants to purchase the downtown building it has been operating out of for the last nine years.
The regional district has been leasing portions of the building at 990 Cedar Street (across from the Community Centre) in Campbell River since 2008 but with insufficient office space, the organization has been considering alternatives that would provide long-term stability.
Dave Leitch, the regional district’s chief administrative officer, said purchasing the building will allow the corporation to make better use of a challenging office space.
“Our corporate office is split between two floors; we have senior staff sharing offices, others sitting in hallways or hot-desking, and a boardroom that does not sufficiently allow for public participation,” Leitch said.
“Our limited space creates challenges for staff, which impacts our ability to best serve the public. We have considered numerous possibilities and this solution is the most cost-effective, least disruptive and practical solution that will meet our corporate needs.”
Last week, at an in-camera meeting – which is closed to the public and the media – the regional district board decided that purchasing the building, which is also leased by Susan Sinnott Law Office and MNP, is the most cost-effective solution.
To finance the acquisition, the regional district is planning to borrow approximately $2 million to cover the cost of purchase, renovations, legal and other associated costs.
Based on current projections of interest rates, operating expenditures and leasehold revenues from other building tenants, the annual costs related to ownership of the asset are expected to be less than the regional district’s current leasehold arrangement, according to a news release.
“The plan to purchase the building is effectively cost-neutral, which means there will be no impact on taxpayers,” says Board Chair John MacDonald.
“We have explored other options, and buying the building makes the most fiscal sense; in fact, being an owner instead of a tenant will save the regional district money while building equity in a desirable asset. It is fiscally responsible and makes good business sense.”
As part of the borrowing process, the board of directors has recommended that elector approval be sought through an alternative approval process.
Voters will be asked to support the plan over the next few months.
The board gave three readings to the loan authorization bylaw at last week’s Wednesday meeting and once provincial approval is received, the public approval process will take place, likely by mid-March.