Following the Regional District of Central Kootenay’s decision to reject the City of Nelson’s offer to share office space in the White Building we heard from Nelson’s mayor and alternate director plus RDCK chair John Kettle.
But the Star wanted to know why 18 other directors voted against the idea, so on Monday morning we polled them by email. Only six responded by Thursday’s deadline, while a seventh respectfully declined comment. These are their verbatim replies.
JIMMIE HOLLAND, Village of Kaslo
RDCK staff and independent consultants agree that the current location is adequate for the foreseeable future.
KAREN HAMLING, Village of Nakusp
I think that working out of the same building is a good idea. However, I feel that there are too many unknowns and we need to do more due diligence. There is still a lot of clarification needed before we jump into a change. I think that we should look at the space solutions offered to us at the current office and see how that works.
ANN HENDERSON, Village of Salmo
I felt that the White Building proposal was very premature. The RDCK had not made a decision yet as to what they were going to do. I will probably just echo what other directors are saying in that it was going to be very costly to move, parking would be a nightmare etc. I feel that the RDCK has made the most cost effective decision.
RON TOYOTA, Town of Creston
My vote was based on recognizing that a solution to improve the present working environment for staff, within the space improvement plan for our current location, would result in better efficiency and improved working conditions, at least in the short term.
As part of the plan, new office furniture and equipment represent the majority of costs; these items could be relocated should a longer term solution (a move) require it.
It was explained that the proposal to relocate would continue to be worked on, as well as other possible long term solutions being considered. A relocation is a serious undertaking for a local government — timing of such an event is key in effectively managing continued service delivery.
ANDY SHADRACK, Rural Kaslo
I have been a fiscal conservative most of my adult political life. The RDCK board has been looking at this issue for three years and prior to November had voted to stay in the current building by reconfiguring the office and changing out office furniture from a bygone era.
I was not present when the board voted to consider Nelson’s proposal in November, but can tell you that the operation and maintenance costs alone would have gone up by 76 per cent from $50,000 a year to $88,000 if we moved from 202 Lakeside Drive to the White Building. On balance after reviewing the pros and cons, and noting there was no space requirement need to move from 202 Lakeside Drive, I voted stay where we were because that made the most fiscal sense.
HANS CUNNINGHAM, Rural Salmo
My reasons for not voting for the White Building and instead for staying in the present building are as follows:
1. Cost. When analyzed, it would cost us more to move than stay. Possible benefits do not outweigh increased costs. Also, we already have high speed fibre, and do not need to spend money wiring in workstations. Many of the suggested benefits are dubious.
2. Efficiency. I remember the days when we were in the old RDCK building on Vernon Street on two, and later three floors. Communication between departments was difficult with visitors and staff running between floors to communicate. A single floor layout such as we now have is far superior.
3. Parking. We now have free parking for staff, directors and visitors close to our building. In the proposed layout, we would either have to buy staff parking places or rent them. Visitors would have to pay to park. Also, we now already have secured parking for our RDCK vehicles.
4. Fairness. If a decision to relocate had been made, we should do what we did last time, and invite all interested parties to come forward with proposals, so comparisons could be done, and the best deal chosen. Aside from this, has the city tried offering space to the federal government? The space the federal government now occupies in the mall cannot be cheap. Why are they not in the white building?
Declined comment: Leah Main, Silverton
No reply by deadline: Larry Binks, rural Creston; Ann Bunka, Village of New Denver; Lawrence Chernoff, City of Castlegar; Andy Davidoff, Rural Castlegar; Ramona Faust, Rural Nelson; Garry Jackman, East Shore; Ron Mickel, Rural Nelson; Paul Peterson, Arrow Lakes; Walter Popoff, Slocan Valley; Gord Zaitsoff, Rural Castlegar