Borrowing begins for Civic Centre revitalization project
The City is set to go into debt and borrow a sum of $4.2 million to support the Civic Centre upgrade project slated for 2024.
Provincial approval has been given by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to allow for borrowing by the City for up to $4.2 million — borrowing included in the Five-Year Financial Plan (2023-2027) over 20 years — for upgrades to the Civic Centre next year.
Council began the process to adopt the loan authorization bylaw in June, given the amount of time it takes between passing a loan authorization bylaw and the receipt of funds, said City chief financial officer Chris Jury.
Although there will be no need to go to the electorate for approval, the City will have to pause for one month before re-submitting the bylaw to the ministry for a certificate of approval, allowing it to go to the regional district to commence borrowing for the project, said Jury.
“My suggestion is, before we do that, is to do some temporary borrowing — which is another process — but would allow us flexibility that we would only have to draw upon it as needed,” he said. “So, if this is a construction project, that would make more sense to me.
“It also gives us the ability to repay those funds at any one time in a five-year window so we are not locked into 20-year borrowing.”
City council approved the borrowing bylaw, as well as the borrowing process.
Under Section 179 of the Community Charter, a municipality may, by a loan authorization bylaw adopted with the approval of the inspector, incur a liability by borrowing for any purpose of a capital nature.
Loan authorization bylaws require approval of the Province. After council passes first three readings of the bylaw, the bylaw is submitted to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs for review and approval by the inspector of municipalities.
When a municipality is successful in the process of passing the loan authorization bylaw a Certificate of Approval is granted from the ministry which allows the City to draw on the borrowing as required.
Certain types of borrowing require the City to seek electoral approval or go through an alternative approval process.
“However, the amount of borrowing sought for the Civic Centre will not require electoral assent as it falls in the ‘approval-free liability zone’ under part two of the regulation,” Jury stated.
Source: City of Nelson agenda, Oct. 10
Last month the city’s manager revealed that escalating costs and scope have dampened the Civic Centre project, causing the City to head back to the drawing board for solutions.
Kevin Cormack said the City was still “working through that one” as it tries to match the needs of the heritage facility with the dollars to realize it.
“We’ve seen significant price and scope escalation in that project … so we have put it back to consultants to look at how we deliver that project in a manner that is more in line with our budgets,” he said in a City council meeting on Sept. 12.
He pointed to the structure’s aging roof and the snow load it will undergo once it is insulated, putting additional pressure on it and raising concerns on how it will perform.
“So it is back with the consultants looking at every out-of-the-box solution of how can we deal with it, specifically, that roof and just cost escalation,” he said. “So that’s a really, really challenging project and we are working hard with people to find solutions to a very challenging building.”
He estimated there was up to 50 per cent construction cost escalation since 2021. The Civic Centre accounts for 30 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions from Nelson municipal facilities.
In March the City announced Colliers Project Leaders as the drivers of the Civic Centre Revitalization Project to update, renovate and renew the 89-year-old building.
Three for one
There are three different scopes with the project: low carbon and heritage renewal; the Civic Theatre renovation; and accessibility upgrades.
The project will be looking at roof components, the insulation, the windows, said Kim Turner, Colliers project lead, but it will also be looking at building up resiliency by replacing the cooling system, the heating system and installing an HVAC system.
“We want to ensure that all of the different individuals, businesses, that use that facility are comfortable year round,” she said, “and they are not comfortable at the expense of the environment.”
The Civic could also potentially be a place to be used in case of an emergency, said Turner.
The Civic Theatre project has been driven by a very passionate group, she continued, with the Nelson Civic Theatre Society spearheading the initiative for quite a few years.
“They have a couple of different goals and one them is obviously to increase the capacity, increase the availability of that space, turning it from a one-theatre to a three-theatre space,” said Turner, “and really looking at how they can improve the universal accessibility of that space.”
The idea is to make it a safe space where the local art and theatre community, and the local movie industry, can be promoted, said Turner.
Right now only five per cent of that building is accessible, she said.
“And that needs to be adjusted so we can provide the opportunity for everyone to use the theatre, the gymnasium and the dance studio,” Turner explained. “So we have combined all those three scopes into one project.”
Source: The Nelson Daily, March 2023