A Creston resident has been vocal with his disapproval of the future Creston Emergency Services Building (CESB).
Keith Goforth is a former member of what was once called the Committee for an Affordable Fire Hall. Councillor Ellen Tzakis, who resigned from town council last month, was also involved and opposed to extra spending.
In December 2017, the group successfully gained enough support to defeat a borrowing referendum for over $6 million. A year later, voters approved a borrowing maximum of $4.5 million.
Yet, Goforth continues to express his dissatisfaction of the now $8.2-million project.
“The process has bothered me,” he said. “Town council has made a gross error on many fronts. They should actually cease the project.”
Construction is now underway, as town officials ceremoniously broke ground at the Cook Street site on April 27.
Goforth believes a project of this scope should have been put on hold during the pandemic. Instead, he thinks the ideal situation would’ve been to renovate the old fire hall temporarily.
According to Mayor Ron Toyota, renovations were not feasible and cost-prohibitive. The current building is a converted grocery store that has presented many challenges due to not being up to code under WorkSafeBC.
“There’s been no agreement to escalate the spending on the building,” said Goforth. “Town council has taken it into their own hands to spend millions more without the public’s input.”
He also doesn’t believe that taxes won’t be increased due to the CESB project, which is utilizing $1.14 million of town reserves and surplus.
Goforth said the location next to Pealow’s – Your Independent Grocer was the wrong choice. The land was purchased in early 2020 after consultation and studies on eight different locations conducted by Johnston and Davidson Architecture.
It was chosen as the preferred site based on size, centralized location to maintain response times, and development costs.
Goforth has also been critical of town council making decisions behind closed doors, which Toyota said is necessary in some cases for legal reasons.
“It’s just a ridiculous way for democracy to take place,” said Goforth. He believes the only way to set things right would be to replace the current town officials in the election next year.
“I don’t think anything’s going to change because they’ve got their heels dug in as their decision-making process goes,” said Goforth.
“They’ve made some poor choices, and I’m not happy with it. They need to be held accountable. I know some of them will not run in the next election. Mayor Toyota has expressed that in the past. It’s really sad because he’s saddled the town with debt for decades to come.”