The Committee has directed staff to come back with a shovel ready project for a renovated pool at the Quesnel Rec Centre, along with an attached gymnastics facility.
What they didn’t tackle on Tuesday (May 19) night were the difficult decisions such as how to pay for it.
Mayor Bob Simpson…
“I think what we need to do, and what staff are asking direction for, is do we proceed to tidy these projects up ? Then we come back and have the conversation at some point, most likely in the fall about, are these projects linked or not linked ? Are they referendum or not referendum ? Are they a shovel ready project for a grant and maybe gas tax ?”
Simpson cautioned however, that the costs of these projects were going to just keep going up…
“The rec centre project, all in including the slide, was 15.5 million in 2017. It’s now at 21.3 million in 2020. That’s a 28 percent increase for the same project. If we had actually taken the whole thing to referendum in 2017 I can bet you that referendum would have passed.”
The estimated cost of an attached gymnastics facility is in the neighbourhood of 3.4 million dollars.
That was a little more expensive than another option that would have seen it located in behind the arts and recreation centre.
Jeff Norburn is the Director of Community Services…
“What that would do though is create some empty space in between the two buildings, narrow empty space which arguably is the kind of space that could be used for inappropriate behavior, it could become unsightly or become a little bit of a maintenance issue.”
It was also felt that there could be some operational savings by having it attached.
Getting back to some of the decisions that lie ahead, all of the northern Cariboo Regional District Directors seemed to indicate a preference to separate the two projects if it went to a referendum, or when it comes to seeking funding.
John Massier is the Director for Area C…
“I think it is also important that we keep these two projects separate. I think they both have merit and I think there is more of a possibility of us getting a gymnastics centre if we keep it separate.”
There were also doubts, including from Councillor Laurey-Anne Roodenburg, about the availability of funding post COVID…
“We keep talking about potential for federal funding. This is me, but I think that is kind of pie in the sky right now. I can’t imagine there is any money left in their piggy banks to look at any kind of infrastructure funding across Canada given how much money they have spent on COVID.”
The rec centre project has twice been denied for federal funding.
There was also some concern expressed around the table about adding to the sub regional recreation budget in a referendum.
Mary Sjostrom, the CRD Director for Area A, suggested a special meeting in the fall prior to making these decisions…
“And have a candid discussion knowing what impacts, if we’re successful, when we’re successful, what that will mean to the sub regional rec taxpayers, and maybe not be trying to cover off other things.”