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Township could borrow up to $25 million to build new Brookswood firehall

Replacement hall intended to be big enough to serve growing neighbourhood
A Langley Township firefighter douses the rubble of a burned barn just off 40th Avenue in Brookswood last fall. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Langley Township is looking to borrow up to $25 million to build a new, up to date firehall in Brookswood.

Council passed a borrowing bylaw on May 1, but the loan now has to go through an “alternative approval process” which would allow residents to subject the plan to a referendum if enough signatures can be gathered.

The council is moving forward on a replacement for Firehall 5, which serves the Brookswood-Fernridge area, as development accelerates in that neighbourhood and thousands of new residents are expected over the next decade.

“As you can imagine, I am really glad to see this moving ahead,” said Councillor Tim Baillie, a retired firefighter. “We haven’t built a firehall since 2006, and event hat one was cheaped out on and not built for the future.”

The new firehall will be built with capacity for the present and for future growth, Baillie said.

Coun. Margaret Kunst asked about the possible interest rate on the proposed loan, which was listed at more than four per cent in the report on the project.

Director of finance Sandra Ruff said the interest rate is only a projection – it will be set when the loan is actually made, sometime after the alternative approval process is finished.

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Mayor Eric Woodward pointed out that it’s not certain the Township will have to borrow the entire $25 million.

Right now, there is $16 million in a Township fund for firehall projects. That money comes from community amenity contributions (CACs) which are fees paid by developers when new projects are approved.

Woodward and his Contract with Langley slate on council have re-vamped the CAC system to bring in more money, and Woodward said they anticipate it generating “hundreds of millions of dollars” for Township projects in the coming years.

“This is investing for the future, knowing that the revenue will come later on through development to either pay off that debt early, or contribute some amount from that fund to that project,” Woodward said.

It will take about two years to design and build a new firehall, said Township administrator Mark Bakken. The exact site for the new hall has not yet been determined, and will be chosen in discussion with the fire department’s senior leadership.

Under the alternative approval process, any municipal loan for a period longer than five years can be challenged by voters. Public notices about the loan will be published in newspapers and available from the Township for people to petition that they are opposed to the borrowing. If 10 per cent of all local electors – based on the last election, that would mean 9,639 people – petition against the borrowing, the matter has to be sent to a referendum, or the council can withdraw the bylaw.

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Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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