Shediac to seek approval to borrow $7M for new town hall

·2 min read

The Town of Shediac will seek approval to borrow the $7 million needed to build a new town hall, although council was divided on the proposal.

At this week's meeting, the motion, which directed staff to prepare a request for the Municipal Capital Borrowing Board, passed 5-3.

While the mayor votes only in the event of a tie, Mayor Roger Caissie made it clear he did not support the proposal, saying in French that after weighing the pros and cons, he believed other projects were more important.

Caissie said that a project of this magnitude, with a pricetag estimated at $6.7 million, should be pursued only if other options have been exhausted, and following public consultation.

The pandemic has increased construction costs and instability in both labour and availability of materials, he said, noting the impact on the city budget would be considerable and could undermine the town’s ability to pursue other infrastructure needs.

Coun. Gilles Brine, who would go on to support the motion, said in French that Caissie was not following procedure by voicing his views on the matter in this way, and should have left his chair before engaging in debate.

Coun. Laura Gallant said she would like to see the town explore further options with the current town hall where the municipality leases space, a pursuit estimated to come in at less than half the cost, even with additional work to the building.

The 20-year lease expires in December, Caissie told the Times & Transcript.

Gallant cited numerous other projects, including flood mitigation work, that still need to be paid for.

Coun. Jean-Claude Bertin, who would go on to vote against the motion, said while he previously voted in favour of the project, he is now concerned about the town holding a debt of $7 million, and how that will be received by residents. He said he does not see a need to rush through the project now, and does not think residents will either.

Coun. Paul Boudreau, who voted for the motion, said in French the file is a difficult one, but council previously voted unanimously for a new city hall of some kind, and this was the next step.

Coun. Raymond Cormier, who supported the motion, noted that Shediac saw considerable construction in 2020, not a decrease. He also said many other francophone municipalities own their city hall and consider it a source of pride. He would like Shediac to have the same.

Passing this motion does not mean the town is committed to pursuing a new town hall ahead of all other options, said Coun. Germaine Gallant, who voted in favour of it.

Renting or leasing a current building, purchasing an existing building or constructing a new building all remain possibilities.

Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal