Some West Vancouver councillors had harsh words for the $3.1-million 2011 AmblesideNow budget Monday, but when the time came to raise hands each voted to move forward with the project.
The vote was on the amendments to include the AmblesideNow spending and a $150,000 road improvement project in the district's five-year financial plan.
The district plans to pay for the next step in the AmblesideNow project with sale of surplus lands, and included are a detailed plan, cost estimate and business case for the public safety building, money for the sale of public lands and early planning for AmblesideNow.
The AmblesideNow budget was passed at council in June in another form, but it received a rocky ride Monday as soon as resident Garrett Polman stepped to the mic.
He questioned whether police and fire should be split up, whether cost overruns are likely and whether residential development will be able to pay an estimated $50-$65 million cost given that West Vancouver residents recently turned down the proposed tower at Safeway site. No answers were available yet, said staff, as the necessary studies are included in this round of funding.
"I don't know how we can approve a $3.1-million budget when we can't look taxpayers in the eye and give them the answers to these questions, or at least tell them how we're going to get the answers," said Coun. Michael Smith, who was joined by Couns. Michael Lewis and Bill Soprovich, who repeatedly asked to delay the sale of lands designed to fund the project.
The parade of councillors lining up to question the spending plans irked Mayor Pam Goldsmith-Jones, who said the budget is designed specifically to answer questions of size, total cost of the building and whether combining police and fire is truly cost effective.
She also questioned why councillors were bringing these issues up now in public council meeting when the same issues had been discussed during committee and passed with unanimous votes.
"It is irresponsible to change the point of view, which at the moment is: We've got to do this homework and we've got to put it in the hands of the public, because what we're trying to do from the very beginning is lay the groundwork for the future of West Vancouver," said Goldsmith-Jones.
She later continued: "If that wasn't the intent, I must have misunderstood the unanimous approvals at those times."
Couns. Trish Panz, Shannon Walker and Michael Evison spoke in favour of the budget.
When the vote came in unanimous, Goldsmith-Jones leaned over to Soprovich, and asked: "I'm sorry, was that a quiet yes?"
Soprovich confirmed his vote.