What is the cost to borrow money to renovate the pool at the Quesnel Rec Centre ?
That is the next step in the slow march towards a possible referendum on the topic after yet another lengthy discussion by the North Cariboo Joint Advisory Committee at a meeting on Tuesday night.
The Committee voted back in December of last year to hold another referendum on the issue by April 30th, although staff did raise concerns about a tight timeline.
Darren Campbell, the Manager of Community Services with the Cariboo Regional District, said the challenge first is what is the project ?
“There is a self selected survey that has strong support for a 36 million dollar project, but we haven’t seen what the taxation implications are of that. Borrowing costs have gone from 2 percent to more like 4 or 5, 6 percent over a 10 year term. We haven’t done the calculations on those impact yet, so I think this group needs to decide what that scope this project is and understand what those taxation implication costs are, and then set the referendum date.”
Jeff Norburn, the Director of Community Services with the City of Quesnel, added that there are a number of steps that have to happen in order to hold a referendum, and that the committee would need to make a decision on the scope of the project at the next meeting on December 13th.
The committee has asked staff for pricing on two options, one with and one without a slide.
Only Barb Bachmeier, the CRD Director for Area B, was opposed.
“The fact of the matter is the second option was defeated already, and I know talking to other people who are in that demographic that want the full meal deal. They’re telling me that they’re going to vote against it if it’s not the full meal deal, and that’s our issue.”
A consultation process took place in the spring and summer of this year.
1,134 people took part with more than 80 percent indicating that they were in favour of a major renovation at the facility.
That included 62 percent wanting a water slide.
Despite those numbers, some members of the committee appeared to be getting cold feet about moving forward, including CRD Area A Director Mary Sjostrom.
“I am hearing great concern with the escalating cost of living, the cost of everything for families, so I just want us to be really cautious to make sure that even though we would all love to have the full meal deal, I want us to be successful. We’ve already spent considerable money and we weren’t successful, so I really think we need to get our head around and recognize where we’re at and what the economy is presently at, and I think of all factors. I live in the city but I represent rural people, and the rural people in my area are not jumping up and down.”
Sjostrom added that she wanted to be up front with people that you’re currently paying x, and if we go for borrowing this much this is how much your taxes are going to be.
CRD Area Director Jim Glassford and Mayor Ron Paull expressed similar concerns, although Paull did move the recommendation to come back with the borrowing numbers for the two options.
Not everyone was impressed with some of the comments suggesting that the majority of people weren’t in favour of the project, including City Councillor Scott Elliott.
“We all agreed that we were going to go out to the public with the best information that we could and ask for their opinions. Now some don’t like the report, the outcome of it, but 80 percent said they wanted to move forward with the full meal deal, so now you just want to go backwards again ? We asked for people to respond, we got them to respond, I’m sorry that some aren’t pleased with those numbers, but it’s resounding.”
Most of the committee was committed to moving forward with a referendum arguing that the project was needed in order to attract younger families, professionals and people in other segments of the population that are needed for the economy to grow.
Councillor Martin Runge noted that the facility is aging and no matter what they do, it is going to cost more and more every year for repairs.
“So we can sit back and say I’ve got this old building and I’m just going to let it crumble to the ground, and when it finally crumbles to the ground, oh maybe we’ll building something, maybe we won’t. And this is why I believe we need to move forward with a plan.”
One other issue that was raised last night by CRD Area I Director Jim Glassford revolved around a Lidar report that was done on the Rec Centre area.
“One thing I would be concerned about is according to the Lidar report, the red line goes right through the corner of the building, the maintenance part of the building. So whether I am for or against, I would like to have some kind of geological study done before we start spending 35 million plus or whatever we’re going to spend. I think its our due diligence. And I think we should have that information before we go to referendum.”
Both Councillors Elliott and Runge dismissed that as fear mongering, adding that there hasn’t been any movement in the building.