Members of the Castlegar rec commission meet to hash out the aftermath of the recent failed referendum. Photo: John Boivin

Report to summarize failed Castlegar rec referendum

Recreation staff will draw up a report on why a referendum to approve expanding the Castlegar community complex failed — and where the body that oversees recreation in the region should go next.

The report will serve as a backgrounder and guide for the recreation commission sitting after the next municipal election.

The commission made a motion to have staff prepare a report at this week’s meeting, held Tuesday in Castlegar.

It’s the second meeting since the June referendum that saw a small majority of voters approve a $32 million expansion of the area — only to have it defeated when one of the commission’s zones, Area I, voted against the proposal. The project had to be approved by all zones in the region.

Since the defeat, which came at the end of nearly seven years of consultation and planning, rec commission members have wondered how to move forward.

“We may not be here in a few months,” said Florio Vassilakakis, a city of Castlegar rep on the commission, referencing the October municipal elections. “We should be giving guidance to staff. And some deep questions need to be answered before we take the next steps.”

“How do we go forward when we have such differing opinions?”

One of those questions, Vassilakakis said, was whether any proposal to spend money on the Castlegar complex would be supported by Area I, or if they should go their separate ways.

“If we can never get agreement to support services or capital expansion, then is there a willingness on the political side to say, let’s just leave it? That’s the only way I can see it moving forward.”

The director for Area I, Andy Davidoff, said he has been talking to his constituents, and the issue comes down to value for money.

“Bringing in Area I is a thorny issue,” he told councillors. “They have to see the value of what they are contributing. That’s been the issue from Day One.

“There is absolutely a conversation about service review in Area I,” said Davidoff. “They’re saying ‘we are being beaten with a stick’… they’re saying, well, how do we pull out of all these recreation services and do our own thing with the Slocan Valley, and [Areas] E and F?”

Davidoff restated his plan to build a field house on an empty lot at Shoreacres, about 20 minutes northwest of Castlegar.

Build new arena in Area I instead, Rec Commission hears

Davidoff said he had Regional District of Central Kootenay staff studying what happened with Area I residents, and is developing a second report on his idea.

His proposal, however, has little support among other rec commissioners, with Vassilakakis calling the proposal “ridiculous.”

“I have not talked to one individual who has any interest of pursuing anything outside of Castlegar,” added Area J director Rick Smith.

In the end, however, commission members felt a report was a good idea, so that the new recreation commission can begin to move forward soon after the municipal election.

The report will:

• summarize the results of the referendum and provide background history of the consultation process for the new commissioners;

• explore options for the service area of the rec commission, including the process for shrinking or expanding the service area;

• mention the idea of a collaborative approach to using the empty field at the junction of Highways 3 and 6, which could be used for recreation purposes;

• update a 2015 proposal to expand the fitness centre at the Castlegar complex, to allow that project to go ahead with alternate sources of funding.

• look at options to increase the tax requisition ceiling for area services by 25 per cent

The recreation commission may lose months of work because of the municipal elections, as it may take time to get new members up to speed. Commissioners felt a report my help offset that.

The staff report is due in November.

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