Frequently Asked Questions

Rationale & Location

Q1.  Why is a new office needed?
Q2   Where is the new office located?
Q3.  Why this site?
Q4.  What was involved in the purchase agreement and land swap?
Q5.  Why is the CVRD purchasing the school district administration office and land?
Q6.  How much did the land cost the CVRD?
Q7.  Why is the office not located in the Regional District?

Construction & Design

Q1.  What is the building going to look like?
Q2.  How are you addressing parking within the area?
Q3.  Will there be any impact on traffic in the neighbourhood?
Q4.  Will the CVRD fleet be parking on the new office property?
Q5.  What are the plans for the future RCMP site/community garden on the City of Courtenay land?

Project

Q1. Will the building only be for the CVRD?
Q2. What’s the timing for building a new office?

Costs & Financing

Q1. How much will the project cost?
Q2. How is the project being funded?
Q3. How much will this cost tax payers?
Q4. What are the property tax implications?

Public Input

Q1. How will the public be involved in this project?

Rationale & Location

Q1. Why is a new office needed?
A. The delivery of efficient service to the residents of the Comox Valley is of utmost importance to the board. The CVRD has moved offices three times since 2001. In December 2014 after years of analysis, the CVRD board determined that based on the current flood prone location, limited space, and expensive lease costs, a new regional office building was a strategic priority. Since this time the CVRD has been putting money into reserves specifically for construction of a regional office building.

The building currently housing the CVRD’s corporate offices is leased, which is expensive and doesn’t provide for certainty of future costs. The regional district is currently paying approximately $330,000 per year in lease costs. 
During the development of the financing strategy an independent financial consultant, MNP LLP, confirmed that purchasing land and constructing a new office is more advantageous and less costly when compared to leasing space. This allows the CVRD to have full equity in the course of approximately 30 years, providing an asset to the taxpayers.

Other factors the CVRD board considered when making this a strategic priority included the current building location. In seasons of heavy rainfall and resultant flooding the building has to be evacuated. Being unable to deliver services to residents during this time and the potential cost of damage to corporate records, information technology infrastructure, and fleet vehicles is very expensive. As well, the current facility has a lack of space for staff to deliver CVRD services, a lack of space for meetings with residents, and a lack of functionality within the boardroom.

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Q2.  Where is the new office located?
A. The new office is planned to be located in downtown Courtenay on Harmston Avenue between 6th Street and Cumberland Road beside the current School District 71 (SD71) administration building.

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Q3. Why this site?
A. This particular site was determined as the desired location due to the proximity to the downtown Courtenay core, removal from the floodplain, zoning for government offices,  ability to redevelop under-utilized land and partner with the City of Courtenay and SD71.

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Q4. What was involved in the purchase agreement and land swap?
A. In the first phase of this agreement, the CVRD purchased a vacant piece of land from SD71 upon which a new regional office would be constructed. As part of the agreement, there was also a land exchange between the City and SD71 to secure Harmston Park as City owned land. The City has been leasing Harmston Park from SD71 since 2001 in exchange for general maintenance and mowing.

In a second phase that would  happen in 2021, the CVRD would purchase the adjacent property currently occupied by the SD71 administration offices. The school district would  have the option to remain at this location with a 99 year lease from the CVRD, or move to a new office at a different location. By securing these two properties, the CVRD would  be able to construct a new office and ensure the adjacent property is available for future local government uses.

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Q5.  Why is the CVRD purchasing the school district administration office and land?
A. The CVRD is purchasing the adjacent property to secure local government interests and infrastructure within the community.

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Q6.  How much did the land cost the CVRD?
A. The total monetary cost to the CVRD for the acquisition of the land within both phases is $1,200,000 with non-monetary value of $365,000 assigned to a long-term lease arrangement for the SD71 to remain on the land.

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Q7.  Why is the office not located in the Regional District?
A: The CVRD services three municipalities (Comox, Courtenay and Cumberland) and three electoral areas (A, B and C). Given that is impossible for the CVRD services/office to be located in all of these jurisdictions we had to find the best fit. Courtenay is the most central location, has applicable zoning, gives us the ability to partner with other government jurisdictions and keeps us out of the floodplain.

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Construction & Design

Q1.  What is the building going to look like?
A. The CVRD retained KMBR Architects Planners to undertake the design of the building and property. The conceptual drawings were completed in March 2017. Based on feedback from the public, the CVRD’s staff project team and project coordinator, schematic designs have been completed. Public feedback on the schematic designs will be accepted until June 23rd.

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Q2.  How are you addressing parking within the area?
A.  We are aware that parking is a concern within this neighborhood and have requested KMBR to look at ways to maximize parking onsite. The City of Courtenay requires a certain number of parking spaces onsite based on the type and size of the development. The CVRD is looking at how this requirement can be met and has also retained a transportation consultant to review parking capacity in the surrounding area. As well, the CVRD encourages other modes of transportation including biking, taking the bus, and car-pooling.

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Q3. Will there be any impact on traffic in the neighbourhood?
A. While some increase in traffic is expected, the impact on the neighbourhood is expected to be minimal. This is partially due to the CVRD’s office hours which are 8:00am to 4:30pm. Any traffic increase will take place during the day when neighbourhood residents are typically not home. The CVRD will also be working with the City of Courtenay, and through the building design process to look at strategies to minimize traffic impacts. 

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Q4. Will the CVRD fleet be parking on the new office property?
A. The CVRD will be moving some of their fleet vehicles over to the new property. The vehicles would be light duty passenger vehicles and pickup trucks. Heavy duty vehicles such as dump trucks would not be parked on the property as this site is not intended to be a public works location. The intention would be to park a similar number of vehicles as currently housed at our Comox Road location.

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Q5.  What are the plans for the future RCMP site/community garden on the City of Courtenay land?
A. For all inquiries regarding the future RCMP site or community garden please contact John Ward, Director of Legislative Services/Deputy CAO, at the City of Courtenay at 250-334-4441. 

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Project

Q1.  Will the building only be for the CVRD?
A. The strategy is to create synergy and shared administration facilities. The project is being designed with the intent to share spaces such as boardrooms, computer server rooms, archive storage and an emergency operations centre with the City of Courtenay, Village of Cumberland and SD71. As well, the CVRD may be partnering with the school district to develop educational elements in the new building for students to learn about governance and regional services such as water, sewer and waste management.

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Q2.  What’s the timing for building a new office?
A. The process to design and build the new office is expected to take approximately two to three years. Design work is currently underway, with the goal of beginning construction in 2018. If all the timelines are successfully met, the new office will be fully operational by early 2019.

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Cost & Financing

Q1. How much will the project cost?
A. The schematic design features a durable, cost effective, energy efficient, attractive community building and the project is estimated to cost 11.7 million dollars based on Class D estimates.

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Q2. How is the project being funded?
A. The project will be funded through a combination of 2 million dollars from reserve funds, 1.5 million dollars of grant funding from the electoral area community works funds, and the remaining 8.2 million through long term borrowing. The 8.2 million would be funded through a loan authorization bylaw approval process with long term debt borrowing for a maximum 30 years to ensure affordability for residents. The approved financing strategy for the construction of the regional office building will be tax neutral to residents.

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Q3. How much will this cost tax payers?
A. The project will be tax neutral for residents, which means the current cost of the building lease and the reserve contribution will be redirected towards the debt repayment. Instead of paying rent with no building asset, the Regional District would be using those funds to repay the debt and would own a community asset.

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Q4. What are the property tax implications?
A: Local government owned property is exempt from property taxes within the municipalities and the electoral areas.  However, the landlord of the CVRD’s current building is not exempt from paying property taxes to the City of Courtenay and when the City does not approve a permissive tax exemption, the landlord passes along the cost of the property taxes to the CVRD as part of the lease costs.

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Public Input

Q1. How will the public be involved in this project?
A. Throughout the project neighbours, stakeholders and residents will be kept informed. During the design process, engagement opportunities will be available for residents to provide their feedback on the building design.  

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Have a question you want answered?

Send it in and we will get it answered for everyone to see.

Project Lead
Michael Zbarsky
Manager of Transit and Sustainability
250-334-6037
Email
Communications Lead
Jennifer Steel
Manager of Corporate Communications
250-334-6063
Email

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