Upgrades to the Castlegar Community Complex could be paid for in large part by grants from the provincial and federal governments. (File photo)

Upgrades to the Castlegar Community Complex could be paid for in large part by grants from the provincial and federal governments. (File photo)

Give us options for Castlegar Complex upgrades, rec commissioners tell staff

Deadline fast approaching to access federal, provincial funds for project

Members of the Castlegar and District Recreation Commission have taken a small step towards upgrading the city’s community complex.

Commission members voted Tuesday night to have staff investigate how different configurations of the project might be paid for by senior governments and local taxpayers.

“I just want to see us move ahead,” said Rick Smith, the director for Area J, which includes Ootischenia and Robson. He made the motion directing staff to explore the options.

“I’d like to see us get into this grant intake, so if staff can give us some numbers, we can see if it’s feasible or not, and hopefully we can get 73.3 per cent of the funding.”

The funding Smith and the other commission members are hoping for is from a $134.8-million pot of cash from the federal and provincial governments. The money was announced in the fall to pay for recreation projects in B.C.

Municipal governments can access up to 10 per cent of the fund, meaning the Castlegar complex upgrade project could potentially receive up to $13.4 million, covering just under three-quarters of the project.

That would mean upgrades to the complex, which were narrowly rejected by voters in a referendum in the summer, could be built without having to go to taxpayers for approval.

But not the whole project. The $32 million proposal was originally envisioned to include a second sheet of ice in the arena, upgrades to the pool, a new social hub, expanded fitness centre, and elevated walking track.

Several options

on the table

Commission members were presented with a shopping list of potential upgrades— from demolishing an old building on the complex grounds, to just building the new fitness centre, or walking track, social space, or pool upgrades.

They could add all the options, or pick and choose certain phases of the project. Each combination would change the final price.

Area I director Andy Davidoff cautioned adding too much to the project would trigger the need to go to taxpayers for approval.

“Here’s the problem,” he said. “We have to have an enabling bylaw passed at the regional district to say where we are going to secure the money. Then we have a problem. We may have to go to referendum.”

Without a secured source of local money to kick into the project, the commission is taking a risk applying for the funds, he said.

With so many options on the table for the project, Davidoff asked if the commission could fly in the project architects for consultation. Staff said the architects weren’t likely available this late in the process.

But Bergen Price, who was elected chair of the commission earlier in the evening, worried that they were over-thinking the process.

“We sort of have paralysis by analysis,” he said. “We have to get the ball rolling, get something done.”

“The longer we put this off, the higher the price goes,” added Dan Rye.

In the end, the commission decided to ask staff to explore several options, including applying for funds to build everything but the second sheet of ice for the arena.

Smith says he thinks the commission can meet the deadline.

“I trust staff will get us the numbers back. We’ll make sure we have a proper grant application written before it’s submitted.”

That could be tough. Staff have to crunch the numbers, hold a meeting and get the commission’s approval, then write up an application that will impress senior governments enough to give them more than $13 million.

All before the deadline of Jan. 23.

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Upgrades to the swimming pool are part of the proposal being researched by staff. (File photo)

Upgrades to the swimming pool are part of the proposal being researched by staff. (File photo)

Rec commission member Rick Smith made the motion directing staff to explore the options and get back to the board with hard numbers. (File photo)

Rec commission member Rick Smith made the motion directing staff to explore the options and get back to the board with hard numbers. (File photo)

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