A much anticipated and controversial debate, regarding the request of additional funding for reparations, necessary, to make the Station House functional on the most basic of levels as a tourist information centre and museum ensued at an adhoc meeting, prior to regular council on Monday night.
“We do have money in unallocated capital for 2015, and council would be able to use that, if it so desires,” said John Fortoloczky, CAO, for the District of Hope on the request from AdvantageHOPE, which was given to council members on Monday, May 11th.
Considerable deliberation concerning the credibility of the Station House Steering Committee findings and other possible uses for unallocated community funds, were voiced by attendees and opposing council, which ware subsequently heard and considered, as council moved to grant an additional $86,000 to the original $115,000 the District of Hope had entertained for the project at its onset.
Opposition, strongly voiced concerns over a fiscal amount that was estimated at a rough $436,000 to substantially complete the building, outlined in the initial report of the three priority phases of the project, as stated by AdvantageHOPE, which cited the structural needs — all the way down to wants and desires, as well as potential conflicting bids in Hope for further grant monies from the province, such as the BC150 grant.
It was then discerned by AdvantageHOPE that for the cost of $200,000, the building could be up and running at a bare bones level, without the comprehensive makeover that would involve upward of half a million dollars.
The use of volunteer labour, which was a huge component to offset cost in the initial report was seen as subjective by some council members, as well as some of the public, in terms of liability and the actual reality of creating a sound structure, inherent to the skills facilitated by professional engineers and contractors alike.
“We feel that despite of the fact that there have been more extensive repairs identified then we first anticipated, and with the current information that we have — we still feel that preserving the Station House is possible and financially feasible,” said Tammy Shields, project manager from AdvantageHOPE.
Though several issues had been distinguished for the building, Ms. Shields stated from her initial report that there were solutions to all of them.
“We say financially feasible, because the total cost of the repairs, plus the cost of the functional modifications is still well below the market value of both the Visitor Centre site and the Station House site, and the investment that the District would be making of $200,000 would end up back in the hands of the District — the value of both together, as opposed to separately would be higher,” she said.
After careful consideration and a final motion to move on the requested $200,000, an outcry of public support and clapping from the audience erupted, as one gentlemen stated that he thought the building, which he compared to that of an Alfred Hitchcock movie would never see the light of day in his lifetime.
“I think everyone should think about how proud we’re going to be when people go by and see,” he said.
Another member of the audience spoke genuinely to the efforts of council and staff, as well as acknowledging the people of Hope as a community that bans together to get things done.
“I want to congratulate the momentum of volunteers, and volunteerism in Hope — that energy is priceless and what you’re doing by saying yes to these types of projects is nurturing that,” she said.
After further accolades, Mayor Wilfried Vicktor imparted a final parting comment to the jubilant room.
“I think sometimes, politically doing something is less risky than doing nothing —we will be moving forward as a community together.” he said. Over time the naysayers will come on board as they see the progress of this project.