Surrey mayoral candidate Ross Buchanan is challenging incumbent Dianne Watts on the cost and logic of a new city hall.

Watts challenger targets new city hall

A South Surrey resident running for mayor in the Nov. 19 civic election is calling for a halt to any construction on the new city hall.

A South Surrey resident running for mayor in the Nov. 19 civic election is calling for a halt to any construction on the new city hall.

But incumbent Dianne Watts says Ross Buchanan’s appeal – along with claims the project will cost at least $97 million and up to $200 million – is “totally unrealistic.”

“That’s not going to happen,” Watts said. “This is a whole complex plan of moving the city forward. I understand that he needs an election issue – I get that – but this has been in the works for a very long time.

“There’s a big hole in the ground and contracts have been let, and so we’re not going to put all those people out of work, start cancelling contracts and leave a big hole in the city centre.”

Schematics for the 180,000-square-foot facility were unveiled in June 2010. A site on the south side of 104 Avenue, east of University Boulevard, has been excavated, and construction is expected complete by the fall of 2013.

Buchanan, describing the project as a “boondoggle,” cited cost as a key reason why the work should not proceed. At least two Surrey Civic Coalition council candidates – Rina Gill and Stephanie Ryan – have announced they share the sentiment.

In addition to the cost factor, Buchanan – one of seven mayoral candidates – said the timing is bad for this scope of a project.

“This is a huge debt that we’re taking on,” Buchanan said. “My question is… is this the right project and if it is, is now the right time?”

Watts said Friday that  the building will cost $50 million, with a portion to be recovered through leasing out the existing city hall on 56 Avenue. She said a September 2010 bylaw authorizing the city to borrow up to $97 million is money that was locked in through the Municipal Finance Authority “to make available if we need it – we may not – at a very low interest rate.”

Regarding lease revenue, Watts confirmed the city is “going through the process” with the provincial government to see the existing facility leased for expansion of the justice precinct. The area is currently home to the Surrey RCMP detachment, remand centre and Surrey Provincial Court.

Taxes have not been increased to pay for the project, she added. And, a satellite office will be established in a South Surrey facility.

In response to Buchanan’s claims infrastructure of the existing city hall is more than adequate, Watts said the new facility is part of a larger effort to increase sustainability. In addition to a plaza and a council chamber that converts to theatre space, it will have a community daycare and space for seniors. It will also be close to SkyTrain, she said.

“It’s not just around space. It’s around building a city,” she said.

Buchanan maintained it’s a project that has divided the city, and that warrants review.

“People would like to know the truth behind what the numbers are here,” he said. “There’s a whole bunch of people asking questions.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Parallel crises: How COVID-19 has exacerbated the drug overdose emergency

Part 1: Surrey, White Rock officials say isolation, CERB, contributing to crisis

Pubs accused of ‘negligently’ serving alcohol before Surrey traffic crash

The case concerns an Aug. 2, 2015 single-vehicle crash

Surrey mayor says Newton needs more recreation facilities

Surrey council has approved the “Stage 2 Final Report” of the Newton Town Centre Plan

Surrey city staff hears restricting recovery homes to six clients won’t cut it

Corporate report notes there are more recovery homes in Surrey than in every other community in B.C. combined

Gravestones repaired at Surrey Centre Cemetery

Restoration now complete on seven pioneer grave markers vandalized in April

Police issue warning after baby comes across suspected drugs in Kamloops park

The 11-month-old girl’s mother posted photos on social media showing a small plastic bag containing a purple substance

Collision results in train derailment just east of Golden

The derailment occurred Sunday night, according to a statement from CP

Missing Fraser Valley man’s car found in Harrison

Michael Denham has been missing since June 27

Lower Mainland woman says llama farming neighbour shot her 11-month-old pup

Young dog was on owner’s Maple Ridge property when it was killed on June 21

B.C. records 31 new cases, six deaths over three days due to COVID-19

There are 166 active cases in B.C., 16 people in hospital

B.C. highway widening job reduced, costs still up $61 million

Union-only project scales back work to widen Trans-Canada

Most Read

l -->