Just 4.6 per cent of eligible voters in North Cowichan submitted an Elector Response Form opposing the municipality’s plan to borrow $48 million to build a new RCMP detachment.
North Cowichan’s corporate officer Michelle Martineau received 1,364 response forms by the deadline on July 14, with 130 rejected, out of the 26,916 eligible voters in the municipality during the Alternative Approval Process to receive assent from the public to move forward with the borrowing for the new facility.
During the 30-day response period that began on June 12, if 10 per cent, or 2,692, of all North Cowichan residents or property owners who are eligible to vote filled out the forms opposing the proposal to borrow the cost of the new detachment, council would have had to reconsider how to move forward with the construction of the facility and it may have led to a decision to hold a full-fledged referendum on the project.
Staff recommended that North Cowichan move forward with the borrowing for the facility at the council meeting on July 15 after the response forms were tabulated. The council meeting took place after the Citizen’s print deadline.
Although North Cowichan is expected to borrow the $48 million to construct the facility, which will be located on the municipality’s five-acre property bordering Ford Road and Drinkwater Road, the RCMP and the province will be responsible for paying back 60 per cent of costs of the new detachment.
The remaining 40 per cent (approximately $19.2 million) will be paid for by the taxpayers of North Cowichan.
A staff report written last year stated that if voters didn’t give assent to borrow the money for the project, the RCMP could then potentially construct the building on its own anyway and charge the cost back to North Cowichan.
The new RCMP facility will be a hub detachment that will bring together the North Cowichan/Duncan detachment, Forensic Identification Services, South Island Traffic Services, First Nations Policing and some services of the Shawnigan Lake RCMP detachment under one roof.
The existing North Cowichan/Duncan detachment on Canada Avenue is well past the end of its life.