A concept of the proposed development. Photo: Rossland City Council

No referendum needed for Rossland city hall development: B.C. government

B.C. ministry said there is no legal basis for government to demand referendum on the project

The B.C. government will not request a referendum on a new city hall and affordable housing development at 1920 3rd Ave. in Rossland, according to a newsletter by the city.

The city recently learned of this decision in a letter from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Members of the Rossland Taxpayers Federation (RTF) previously had sent a petition to housing minister Selina Robinson, asking for a referendum to be held on the proposed project.

The petition gathered more than 350 signatures and a letter also sent from the RTF to the ministry claimed that the city withheld important environmental, geotechnical and traffic reports until the day after a public hearing was held on the project in February, 2020.

Despite the allegations, the ministry said the RTF needed to sort out the issues with city council and staff since it was a local matter.

The ministry also stated that since the city isn’t borrowing any money for the project, no referendum is required to be held.

“This is the response we expected. The provincial government is not inclined to intervene in local matters as local governments are granted a fair amount of autonomy for the decisions they make,” said mayor Kathy Moore in the newsletter.

“In addition to this rationale, council feels that it has sufficiently consulted and informed the public on this proposed project.”

The city has also posted reports and other communications material about the project since March 2019.

If completed, the new city hall will be located on the first level of the building while 37 affordable housing units would be located on the second, third and fourth floors.

Of the anticipated $15 million cost for the project, BC Housing is providing approximately $5.6 million while the city is providing approximately $3 million.

The project is undergoing final review by its multiple partners and a tender is anticipated to go out for the project in January, 2021. It’s anticipated the project will be completed in October, 2022.

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