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December 14 Mayors Report

In my last Mayor’s report I provided an update on the OCP Update, a Snug Cove Marshalling Plan, and the National Park Initiative. Here I focus on two other strategic priorities: a fund-raising campaign for our Community Centre, and upgrading our Fire Hall.

Community Centre

A new community centre has long been an aspiration of the Bowen community. We are preparing to launch a campaign to raise the funds for the construction of this centre. Our goal is to build an affordable structure that meets the highest needs of our community.  Council supported the recent Bowen Community Centre Action Committee (BCCAC)recommendation to set the capital cost of the centre and the financial target of the fundraising campaign at 3 million dollars.  We intend to take an affordable first step - a core facility with a flexible design that could  be added to in the future with additional recreation space, a new home for the library, and/or a community-owned municipal hall.  A fund-raising campaign should be underway by early summer that will engage both full  time and part-time residents. To get there, BCCAC has laid out a series of steps. A key requirement for the campaign is an artistic rendering of the facility on its site near the community school. This ‘picture’ will be informed by a concept design with a $3M budget, space allocation for priority uses, and a business plan for an affordable operation.  With a concept design, artistic rendering, and business plan in hand, the work of BCCAC will complete. Council will then recruit a ‘campaign cabinet’ to lead the fundraising. It makes sense to initiate the fund-raising campaign after the community has spoken on the National Park issue in April, and we can collectively turn our attention to this important venture.

Fire Hall

Fire Chief Brian Biddlecombe’s recent proposal for a satellite fire hall on the west side of Bowen received enthusiastic support from Council. The satellite hall concept provides an affordable and strategic step to fix the one weakness in our fire and emergency services – an inadequate fire hall. We have a great team of volunteer fire fighters, the envy of many other small communities, and we have good fire fighting equipment. But our 33 year old fire hall is too small and unsafe.We have known for several years that the fire hall needs upgrade or replacement. Council commissioned engineering options, and an analysis of needed functions. A stumbling block to action has been the limited size of the current fire hall site, and a lack of options for an alternate site with necessary acreage and location.

A satellite hall would relieve the space requirements on the current fire hall site. Staff are currently reviewing whether the current site, in combination with a satellite site, may be adequate for our fire and emergency services. A west-side satellite hall could also  significantly reduce the response time to emergency calls on the south and west sides of the island. There are two potential sites for the satellite hall on municipal lands near to the junction of Adams and Bowen Bay Road.

Can we support the financial cost of an enhanced fire hall system? Council intends to ask the community by referendum at the time of the civic elections in November 2011. Staff is developing a plan and budget for an enhanced fire hall, keeping a close eye on costs. It is possible that the estimated $390,000 cost of the satellite hall could be funded from existing reserves; if so construction of a satellite hall could move forward in 2011.

Happy Holiday Season everyone!

Bob Turner


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