Sidney safety building awaits court ruling

Sidney’s new fire hall still in design phase as Mary Winspear Centre awaits word on permission to lease land.

Sidney’s proposed community safety building will be located south of the Mary Winspear Centre — if the courts approve a lease.

Sidney’s proposed new community safety building could be picked up and moved to a third location if need be — but that’s something Mayor Steve Price says he hopes doesn’t happen.

The replacement fire hall and additional facility structure is being planned for property owned by the society that operates the Mary Winspear Centre. The Town of Sidney and the Memorial Park Society (MPS) entered into a preliminary agreement in April, 2015, that would see the land leased to the municipality.

That lease — or the ability of the society to issue one — is currently before the courts, said Price, as the MPS seeks to change a long standing covenant to allow it.

Price said a decision from a judge is expected in around six weeks.

Should that not be successful, the land would no longer be available for the project and would face a search for its third site.

Already, the building was rejected from a site south of Sidney Elementary School. The board of education of School District 63 (Saanich) opposed the plan, forcing the Town to find an alternate location.

They selected a portion of land adjacent to the Mary Winspear Centre and have been planning for it ever since.

Price noted, however, that Sidney does have a list of alternate sites that would have to be reviewed again, should this fall through.

“We are going to build it somewhere,” he said, noting any move forward on the plan depends on the outcome of the court process.

Architects, in the meantime, are about half-way done with their proposed building design, Price continued. Once the design work is done, Price said the Town will be able to get a more accurate cost estimate. To date, they have looked at an estimated $5 to $8 million for the building, stating the $8 million is the upper end of any borrowing they might do to pay for it.

Price said a completed design of, and cost estimate for, the community safety building will give council a better idea of how much they will seek in a borrowing bylaw.

Council has stated they will take the borrowing bylaw to the public in a counter-petition process. This is expected to be fleshed out by January or February, 2016.

The building would house a new fire hall and other local emergency services.