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City of Castlegar releases document establishing partnership for new development at Pioneer Arena site

The Memorandum of Understanding was released after the city received Freedom of Information requests

In response to several Freedom of Information requests from local residents, the City of Castlegar has released the contents of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that moved a mixed-use housing and medical office development forward and signaled the end of the Pioneer Arena.

The project was announced on Oct. 24, 2023. It will be built on city-owned land at 901 Columbia Ave.

The MOU includes the City of Castlegar, the Regional District of Central Kootenay, Castlegar Physicians (represented by their executive committee), Prima Health Cooperative and Axis Projects.

Prima Health Cooperative is a healthcare administration provider. Axis Projects is a commercial real estate management company.

On the same day as the announcement, Dr. Ellen Smart, speaking on behalf of Castlegar’s physicians, confirmed that all of the primary care physicians currently practicing in Castlegar had signed the agreement stating they will move their offices into the new building.

The document states that its purpose it to further detail the separate and distinct responsibilities of each of the signatories.

The bulk of the document is a list of expectations and explanations:

• The Pioneer Arena will be removed to provide a vacant site.

• The parties will will work together to expedite the development so that it is ready for occupancy by the target date of June 1, 2026.

• The parties will establish a planning group that will meet monthly.

• The planning group will track funding, design, construction and occupancy to ensure compliance and problem solve barriers.

• The individual parties will seek funding.

• Axis Projects, acting as a third-party real estate developer, will assist with design, development and long-term financing.

• To allow for due diligence, the city will allow the other parties access to the site for things like environmental assessments.

• The site will be designed to maximize the use of the property considering the needs of the parties and broader community interests.

• The included conceptual plan is intended as a basis for discussion, not a final design.

• The parties are to work collaboratively on all public communications.

• Axis Projects will be responsible for initial design concepts, budgets and cost estimates.

• Further negotiations will take place on terms of a development agreement, maintenance and operations agreement and transfer agreement.

• The parties will dedicate appropriate capacity and qualified staff resources to achieve the agreement’s objectives.

Conceptual designs are also included in the document. They give an idea of what the project could look like, but are not a final design. They include an initial plan for what would comprise each of the four floors, where the approximately 40 apartments would be located and possible floor plans for the apartments and medical spaces.

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Betsy Kline

About the Author: Betsy Kline

After spending several years as a freelance writer for the Castlegar News, Betsy joined the editorial staff as a reporter in March of 2015. In 2020, she moved into the editor's position.
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