May 31, 2016
The Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) in collaboration with the City of Courtenay and School District 71 (SD71) have proposed an integrated approach for a new CVRD regional office through a land purchase and exchange agreement. The land, located on Harmston Avenue in downtown Courtenay between 6th Street and Cumberland Road, is zoned for government offices and is currently owned by the City of Courtenay and SD71.
“Working together and developing a regional office facility is one of the CVRD’s board strategic priorities,” explains CVRD Board Chair, Bruce Jolliffe. “By having local government own the property, we would be in a position to integrate shared services, save tax payers money in the long term, redevelop under-utilized land and contribute to revitalizing the downtown area.”
The regional district offices not only house key assets including IT infrastructure, fleet vehicles, and corporate records; but also is the centre of activity for elected officials, staff and the public. Concerns have been raised over the years regarding the current offices’ flood prone location and annual lease rate which is approximately $330,000 a year.
The key to moving forward with this strategic priority is the property purchase agreement. In the first phase of this agreement, the CVRD purchases a vacant piece of land from SD71 upon which a new regional office would be constructed. 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, CVRD would be able to construct a new office and ensure adjacent property is available for future local government uses. The total cost to the CVRD for the acquisition of the land would be $1.2 million, with a value of $365,000 assigned to prepaid rent for a long-term lease to SD71 to permit the school district to remain on the phase two land while it is still used for school purposes. The purchase of the land would be paid in full through the CVRD reserve fund.
As part of the agreement, there would also be a land exchange between the City of Courtenay and SD71 to secure Harmston Park as City owned land. The City of Courtenay has been leasing Harmston Park from SD71 since 2001 in exchange for general maintenance and mowing.
A second parcel of land on Harmston, adjacent to the future site of the CVRD regional office, will remain under the ownership of the City of Courtenay. This parcel has been designated for several years as the future site of a new RCMP building, and is the current location of the Share the Harvest community garden.
Courtenay Mayor Larry Jangula says the acquisition of Harmston Park is something the City of Courtenay has desired for some time. “We have been fortunate to have the use of the park for many years, but without ownership we didn’t have certainty, or the ability to make long-term plans,” noted Jangula. “We also remain steadfast in our commitment to the RCMP for the adjacent property, and have consulted with them to ensure this land exchange does not interfere with their future plans.”
“SD71 is proud to be a partner in this joint collaboration with the CVRD and City of Courtenay,” explains SD71 Board Chair, Tom Weber. “We believe this exchange of land will strengthen and benefit the community, and will build efficiency for the school district and the community. We look forward to working with both partners to ensure the successful completion of this exchange.”
As part of the process, SD71 will be carrying out public consultations the beginning of June to gather feedback about the disposal of its lands. The dates of these sessions will be Monday June 6, Tuesday June 14, and Thursday June 16 from 7:00 – 8:00pm at the school board office. To find out more information regarding SD71’s public consultation process please visit www.sd71.bc.ca. If you are interested in learning more about the new CVRD regional office and next steps please visitwww.comoxvalleyrd.ca/regionaloffice.
The Comox Valley Regional District is a federation of three electoral areas and three municipalities providing sustainable services for residents and visitors to the area. The members of the regional district work collaboratively on services for the benefit of the diverse urban and rural areas of the Comox Valley.