Aaron Hemens is the editor for the Creston Valley Advance. (Photo by Rame Kader)

Trust is lacking in Creston’s Emergency Services building project

“I am slowly learning about all of the project’s major talking points, and my biggest takeaway so far — after all that I’ve heard, read and witnessed — is that there seems to be a great sense of mistrust between residents and the town”

My biggest concern after wrapping up an issue and embarking for the next one is whether or not I’ll have enough stories to fill the upcoming newspaper’s pages.

Luckily, I didn’t spend much time worrying about that this week. Rather, my concern was whether or not I’ll have enough pages in the newspaper to house all the content from the past week’s news cycle.

A topic and story that’s garnering a lot of buzz is the development of the Town of Creston’s new Emergency Services building. As you may have read in this week’s paper, the most recent update on the project is the town’s decision to cancel the building’s tender process after receiving two tender bids that exceeded the available funding.

I am slowly learning about all of the project’s major talking points, and my biggest takeaway so far — after all that I’ve heard, read and witnessed — is that there seems to be a great sense of mistrust between residents and the town, specifically in regards to how much money is being spent on this project.

During the town council meeting on Aug. 18 where the announcement to cancel the tender process was made, council members were grilled by concerned residents in attendance who had lots to ask.

When asked how much has been invested into this project, the town’s chief administrative officer (CAO) Michael Moore told the asking resident that $370,000 has been spent: $170,000 for a 2017 design development report and $200,000 for the architectural firm.

READ MORE: Town of Creston cancels tender process for new emergency services building

After including Moore’s stated figure in the story and sharing the article onto Facebook the morning after council meeting, I was met with a number of calls and emails from residents who argued that those numbers are not at all accurate.

I briefly spoke with Moore over email and we are working to breakdown the expenses, but he clarified that the entire project cost since 2014 is indeed much higher.

It’s clear to see that there’s a huge disconnect between several residents and the town over this project. People are skeptical about the numbers, and they aren’t happy that the price of the project almost cost nearly $13 million after the initial price was listed at $4.5 million.

To mend all this tension in the air, I think it would be beneficial for the town to do their best in being as open and transparent as they can be with their project. From my point of view, it appears that they are trying to do so, and the Aug. 18 town hall announcement was an attempt to do just that.

But it’s not a good sign when you have a number of residents reaching out and expressing their shared skepticism over the project’s expenses.

In order for everyone to be on board with this project, there needs to be a sense of trust. Right now, it doesn’t seem like there’s a whole lot of that.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: aaron.hemens@crestonvalleyadvance.ca


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