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Posted: February 13, 2019

Community centre loan bylaw opens door for grant funding

By Riley Wilcox

City of Fernie council Feb. 11 approved a loan authorization bylaw to leverage grant funding for the proposed Multi Purpose Community Centre.

At the meeting, Shirley McMahon, Director of Finance, made the recommendation that council rescind third reading of 2019-2023 Five Year Financial Plan Bylaw No. 2369, 2018 and that council amend 2019-2023 Five Year Financial Plan Bylaw No. 2369 by replacing Schedule ‘A’ titled 2019 – 2023 Financial Plan and Schedule ‘B’ titled Objectives and Policies with amended Schedules ‘A’ and ‘B’.

The recommendations to the Five-Year Financial Plan allowed for a further recommendation that Fernie city council give three readings to the Multi-Purpose Facility Loan Authorization Bylaw No. 2372.

Director McMahon stated, “The City of Fernie’s Five-Year Financial Plan Bylaw has been amended to account for the construction costs, the grant allocations and the borrowing that we would propose to do to fund the multi purpose facility.”

The primary component of the application to the Community, Culture and Recreation Infrastructure and Rural Northern Communities Program funding streams, is to provide evidence that the city has it’s share of the costs secured prior to application to the program. The Loan Authorization Bylaw to authorize the borrowing of $19,324,204 will fulfill that component of the application.

During the course of the Multi Purpose Facility project the City of Fernie would be getting short term borrowing before the end of the project as the entire loan would not be disbursed until the end of the project. The primary financial implication over the next five years is the interest on short term borrowing in the amount of $286,461 per year.

The cost of constructing the Multi‐Purpose Community Centre is estimated at $72,524,200 of which $19,342,204 is the amount of debt intended to be borrowed by the City of Fernie.

During the discussion period Councillor Kevin McIsaac stated that “despite supporting the notion of this multi purpose community centre, approving a budget to pay for it and our upcoming authorization for a loan feels a little bit like the horses are chasing the cart down the road, in that we have not engaged with the public as an opportunity to talk about this kind of expense. It is a fantastic opportunity and a fantastic project; I am not sure of my level of comfort of approval of this without having had some sort of engagement.”

Mayor Ange Qualizza reminded council that the loan authorization is a requirement of the funding application and that council had already approved the loan authorization when it approved the grant application.

Mayor Qualizza asked Director McMahon to describe for council how they can reverse the process if the grant application was not successful. Director McMahon confirmed that City of Fernie spending would not occur unless the grant funding was awarded.

Coun. Morgan Pulsifer commented: “Council is not authorized to take on the loan if it is not approved by the electorate and that the Loan Authorization Bylaw is part of the process to start public consultation.”

The city staff recommendation was carried with Coun. Phil Iddon opposed. He clarified that he is in support of the proposal and the project; his lack of support for the third reading is the same as his lack of support for the regional budget.

Fernie Residents have opportunity to attend a public consultation and provide feedback at a Community Open House March 4, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Fernie Aquatic Centre.

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