A referendum for a new fire hall was met with controversy and references to a Taj Mahal in 2018, but Lake Country residents voted in its favour.
George Swarchuk, a Lake Country resident and former member of the Agricultural Advisory Committee called the proposal for a new hall a “Taj Mahal.”
He said a new fire hall should have been built on the hall’s existing property when the idea was first raised nine years ago, instead of using Agricultural Land Reserve land.
In 2009, the advisory committee did not support an application the district made to rezone ALR land for non-farm use at the property the district currently owns on Okanagan Centre Road, but the district eventually got its way, he said.
The land was purchased by the district in 2007 in hopes that it would one day be used for the fire hall.
The district stressed the need for a new fire hall, saying the old one is insufficient for Lake Country’s growing population. A referendum was held during the election Oct. 20 to allow the district to borrow up to $6.6 million for the hall.
Voters came out in favour of the fire hall with 1,724 voting yes, and 1,026 no.
Mayor James Baker said it was “wonderful” that residents voted in favour of the new fire hall and that “it was a long time coming,” after hearing the referendum results.
It was narrowly defeated 10 years ago by 25 votes, he said. “It’s something we’ve been budgeting for, putting money away, and we know what we can afford to do.”
The new hall will be located on Okanagan Centre East and Jardines Road. The district is currently in the design phase for the hall, the details of which have not yet been released.
Staff are proposing a 4.9 per cent tax increase in the fire specific area to help fund the new fire hall which would equate to $90 a year per average household.