City council has upped its contribution to a water line southwest of the Canoe Forest Product’s plywood plant, partly in an effort to keep workers safe in the event of a fire.
CFP had requested $92,000 from the city’s 2016 budget to upgrade a portion of the watermain along Canoe Beach Drive from six to eight inches. Council agreed instead to put $30,000 into a reserve, with $30,000 more in 2017 so the work could be done then.
During budget deliberations, Coun. Kevin Flynn had urged that with CFP being one of the city’s biggest employers, the funds make sense, plus Fire Chief Brad Shirley said it would improve firefighting safety and effectiveness.
In a Dec. 3 letter to council, Marcello Angelozzi, operations manager with CFP, wrote: “Although we still believe that this cost was not CFP’s to bear, with consideration given to our desire to come off the lake water back-up, our insurers’ demands… and fire risk mitigation, we feel like we need to continue with the project in the spring of 2016 so can’t wait for 2017. I would ask that you consider splitting the water main upgrade 50/50 (approximate cost was $90k) for the 2016 budget season and contribute $45k instead… I would also ask that you consider in the 2017 tax season the fact that CFP will have contributed $45k directly to city infrastructure for this project.”
Flynn pointed out that the improvement would not serve another subdivision so that staff can’t really support it. However, he said, he and Mayor Nancy Cooper attended a meeting that included officials from the local operation and Kelowna’s.
“They made it clear they need to do it, it’s a safety issue,” he said, asking that council contribute the other $15,000. “It is 250 jobs out of that operation. I think an extra $15,000… is a small price to make sure people working there are safe and the fire department is safe if they ever have to attend an incident.”
Harrison said if the city gives $45,000 now and CFP contributes $45,000, it’s actually a saving for the city which was going to contribute $60,000 over two years.
“It’s a good offer for both sides.”
Coun. Tim Lavery pointed out that in budget deliberations “we barely squeezed $30,000 in after considerable discussion at this table.”
He said he has questions about the reference from CFP to the 2017 tax season, and said there should be more discussion of tax rates in the spring.
Harrison said he sees no connection between the motion to pay $45,000 and a discussion of who pays what level of tax.
Mayor Nancy Cooper said she would like to see the work done in 2016.
“We’ve heard from the fire chief… He is happy to have it done sooner than later.”
In the end, the motion to contribute $45,000, not $30,000, in the 2016 budget passed, with Lavery alone in opposition.