The Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) and the Castlegar & District Recreation Commission has presented to the public the long-awaited plans for expansion options to the Castlegar & District Recreation Complex resulting from the recreation master plan process the RDCK has been working on for the last few years.
Part of the process of developing the Castlegar & District Recreation Master Plan and the current proposals for expansion on the table was a survey filled out by about 800 residents and 17 user groups. As part of the survey, the question was asked to what degree do you support enhancements to each of the following features.
Aquatic Centre: 35 per cent strongly supported and 35 per cent somewhat supported, 7 per cent strongly opposed and 8 percent somewhat opposed.
New Ice Sheet: 13 per cent strongly supported and 12 per cent somewhat supported, 26 per cent strongly opposed, 27 per cent somewhat opposed.
Fitness studio/gym: 33 per cent strongly supported and 27 per cent somewhat supported, 7 per cent strongly opposed and 8 percent somewhat opposed.
Seniors Centre: 22 per cent strongly supported and 31 per cent somewhat supported, 5 per cent strongly opposed and 6 percent somewhat opposed.
Aquatic improvements had the strongest combined favourable support at 70 per cent while an ice sheet/arena had the highest combined opposed numbers at 53 per cent.
A hub of activity
“The role this building has in the community of Castlegar — I think it is actually undervalued right now,” said Paul Fast, Partner with HCMA Architecture + Design during his presentation at the open house last week.
“This building can be a place that brings people together, that causes interactions between different groups of people, as opposed to just being about recreation,” said Fast.
Statistics compiled during the master plan process showed that 81 per cent of residents had visited the Castlegar & District Community Complex in the past 12 months.
Social Hub option — $2.6 million
The Social Hub, or “The Commons” is an option that would see changes and expansions made to social spaces. It will capitalize on spaces that are currently underutilized. Hallways and corridors will be adapted to become social interaction spaces.
The idea of “views in” will be utilized throughout. You will see glass walls instead of solid walls in many spaces.
The current reception area does not have good sightlines to both entries and that will be addressed. The new design has more of the feel of a welcome centre. The roof over the entry will be raised, bringing in natural light. Wood and other design elements that reflect things that are local to Castlegar and represent the beauty of the area will be used.
Administrative offices will be relocated so they are together, “They are not in a great spot from an operational perspective,” explained Fast.
A multipurpose “fireside” room will be added featuring soft seating. It is designed to be a place to sit down have a rest or take a break. A second multipurpose/party room will be also be added.
Warm viewing spaces that will look into the arena will be added.
Basic building improvements will be included including demolition of a condemned storage area, acoustic improvements to the arena and an additional hockey changing room.
Leisure Pool option — $7.5 million
The leisure pool option will include a dedicated lap pool and a separate leisure pool addressing issues of trying to combine the two types of activities into one space. It will also address the current issue of having the same temperature of water in both the lap area and area for small children in the pool. The leisure pool will be kept warmer than the lap pool.
The leisure pool will include a lazy river and other water features.
The front wall of the pool area will be pushed out and replaced with glass all along the front side, allowing people to connect visually with the pool area. A new pool deck and spray park play area will also be added.
The option also includes change room upgrades and a mechanical room expansion.
Annual operating costs will increase by $75,000.
Running Track option — $1.5 million
The running track can either be added to the existing arena, or to a new arena if one is built. If it is added to the existing arena, an elevator will be added that will also address accessibility issues with the current arena seating area.
Fitness Centre — $2.2 (Option A) or $3.6 million (Option B)
According to the recreation master plan, the current fitness area is inadequate for current usage levels. “I have never seen so much equipment packed into one small space,” said Fast. The new plan will basically double the fitness space in the Complex. It will also include a larger group class fitness room with storage space.
Option A would see the expansion added to the existing area, out the back of the building. Option B, which will cost $1.4 million more, would add a second level above the pool area.
This option would include views to the outdoors and the lobby. Fast explained that adding views to a public building has many benefits including increased security and adding to the vibrancy of the building.
This option would mean an increase of $40,000 in annual operating expenses.
Multipurpose Spaces option — $4 million
This option primarily increases the multipurpose spaces in the Complex with three new rooms designed to support expanded fitness, arts, seniors and youth programming as well as enhanced arena use. “These rooms are the bread and butter of community centres and you really can’t get enough of them,” said Fast.
The rooms will be approximately the same size as the largest meeting rooms currently at the Complex.
The new rooms will be added adjacent to the existing multipurpose rooms. One of the rooms will be adjacent to the arena. In order to balance views with multiple uses, functionality and privacy the rooms will include blinds and other features to make the most use of the spaces. They will be rooms that could be used from anything from birthday parties to public meetings.
This option would mean an increase of $35,000 in annual operating expenses.
Field House — $16.9 million
“A field house is really something we see being used more and more in communities with longer extended winters,” explained Fast.
The building will house three full-size basketball courts all under one roof. This will give flexibility for things like pickle ball, volleyball, badminton, basketball, etc. It will also feature expandable seating so the space could be used to host large-scale public events.
It will also include a parking expansion.
This option would mean an increase of $98,000 in annual operating expenses.
Arena — $16.7 million
The community-based arena will feature 100 to 200 seats at the lower level and a typical arrangement of community changing rooms.
“One of the things that we pay attention to with arenas is actually increasing the functionality from a community-use point of view,” said Fast. “They always work really well for competitive ice hockey, but often times there is a leisure use or some other use whether it is figure skating or short track speed skating that gets neglected when you plan these things. We are trying to build functionality into that second sheet of ice.”
The arena includes an NHL-sized ice surface, new team rooms, mechanical and Zamboni rooms, a lobby expansion to support more leisure skating and a parking expansion.
Instead of the typical big, dark box style of arena, natural lighting will be incorporated into the design.
Fast explained that the cost for these types of buildings has increased in the last few years as much of the needed mechanical equipment to run them comes out of the United States and the current exchange rate has increased the equipment prices.
This option would mean an increase of $46,000 in annual operating expenses.
Current arena space and utilization
Pioneer Arena has reached the end of its usefulness and it is only a matter of time before the building constructed in 1956 will need to be closed permanently.
In 2009 a structural assessment found that “the majority of the building components are currently beyond their expected lifespan and that the facility as a whole is largely exhausted.”
Prime time arena hours are defined as weekdays 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. and weekends 8 a.m. to 11 p.m, totaling 75 prime time hours per week available for each arena. The Complex ice is currently used for 64 of those hours a week and Pioneer Arena is used for about 47 hours each week for a total of about 111 prime time hours used. Leaving around 36 hours of current use that could not be fulfilled should the Pioneer Arena close.
The usage numbers do not take into account how many people are actually using the ice during that time, just that the ice was booked.
Phasing concept and feedback
The plans have been designed so that amenities can be added independently or phased in any combination based on the priorities of the community. It is not an all or nothing proposal.
Residents are asked to give their feedback on each option proposed by rating them based on what level of priority they think each project should have — short term (done in less that five years), mid term (done in five to 10 years) or long term (done more than 10 years from now). The results will then be compiled to determine which options, if any, residents would like to see move forward.
Detailed plans and feedback forms can be found at rdck.ca or at the Castlegar & District Community Complex.
Feedback forms are due by May 19.
Paying for the improvements
How the projects will be purchased and whether or not they will go to a referendum vote depend on which combination of items are chosen and the final price tag.
Short-term borrowing (less than five years) does not require voter approval, but long-term borrowing does. If the project will not increase taxes more than $0.50/$1,000 of assessment, an alternate approval process (counter petition) can be used. If the project will increase taxes above $0.50/$1,000 of assessment, a referendum must be held.
If taxes increase it will affect residents of RDCK Areas I and J and the City of Castlegar.
Grants are another option for funding that will be sought after from other levels of government such as federal and provincial as well as from organizations such as the Columbia Basin Trust.
The RDCK’s Castlegar & District Recreation Commission could also choose to use some of its reserves to pay for part of the project. Those reserves will total about $1.8 million at the end of 2017.