Proposed enhancements to Castlegar’s recreation complex are proceeding to an area-by-area referendum, which is not what project proponents were hoping for.
The Regional District of Central Kootenay’s (RDCK) board of directors voted 12-8 to proceed with an area-by-area referendum on enhancements to the Castlegar & District Community Complex (CDCC) after defeating a motion to hold an all-area referendum.
An area-by-area vote means that if the referendum fails in any of the participating areas — the City of Castlegar, Area I and Area J — then it fails in its entirety. Any vote under 51 per cent fails.
Given that the results of the Castlegar & District Recreation Commission’s last survey showed that only 49 per cent of respondents in Area I would support Option B enhancements, proponents for the enhancements will have some work to do if they are to be successful.
Andy Davidoff, director of Area I, was one of the 12 RDCK directors who supported an area-by-area vote and the only director who requested to be recorded as opposed to an all-area vote. (Directors are only counted as being opposed unless they specifically request to be recorded as opposed, in which case their name is listed under opposed in the minutes.)
“I think the reason the board chose that, from what was said by the members of the board, was that an area-by-area vote respects the voice and autonomy of each area and ensures that no area’s vote is marginalized,” said Davidoff.
The Area I director said that he’s heard from constituents that they support the area by area vote. He also said the recreation commission’s public feedback shows support for work being done at the CDCC.
“The rec commission has completed surveys and we’ve also completed a Recreation Master Plan and it’s pretty clear the majority of residents believe we need to do renovations to the complex and it’s getting to the point where work needs to be done,” said Davidoff.
Castlegar Mayor Lawrence Chernoff and Area J director Rick Smith supported an all-area referendum.
Sixty-three per cent of Castlegar respondents and 67 per cent of Area J respondents said they would support Option B in the last survey.
“It is what it is and I’m more than willing to do that,” Chernoff said of the area-by-area referendum. “It’s really going to be up to the people and when we started that process, that’s what it’s all about. They asked for these things. We did all those open houses, we did all that consultation.”
“I want to see it and I know that constituents want to see it go ahead to referendum, and hopefully we have a positive outcome,” said Smith. “And saying that we’ve got our work cut out for us to get everyone out to vote from all of the areas — the city, Area I, Area J — and it’ll be up to the voters to determine where we go.”
Chernoff also addressed the fact that the CDCC is subsidized by taxpayers, in that user fees do not cover the costs of operating the facility.
“Without the subsidy of taxation, you would never operate,” he said, pointing to the costs.
Chernoff added that it’s standard for public recreation facilities to be subsidized in B.C.
Option B includes the following:
• Necessary items — demolition of the condemned storage area, acoustic improvements to the arena and additional hockey change rooms; two;
• Arena — a regulation-sized ice sheet, 150 spectator seats, team rooms and a lobby extension to facilitate more leisure skating activities;
• Social hub — a lobby expansion and upgrades, a new reception, a “fireside” room, a warm viewing area to the arena, administration offices and a multipurpose/party room;
• An indoor walking track;
• Pool — new leisure pool with water features, lazy river and beach entry, a change room retrofit, a universal change room expansion and a spray pad.
Potential impact on taxes
The proposal is to borrow up to $32,370,000 to cover the building cost of Option B.
The maximum increase on taxation — based on $2.32 per $100,000 of residential assessment for a $1 million loan with a 25-year term and 3.61 per cent APR — would be $75.10 annually per $100,000 of assessed value for residents of Castlegar, Area J and some residents of Area I.
Residents of Area I with properties from north of the intersection at Loff Road and Highway 3A to Playmor Junction, including Shore Acres and the Glade area, are not paying into the aquatic and fitness centres at the CDCC. If the enhancement proceeds, those residents would start paying into those services as well, which is another $28.40 per $100,000 of assessment.
So in total, those residents would pay up to an additional $103.50 per $100,000 of assessment.
But residents will only pay the maximum increase in the event that the project receives no grants and the tax base does not increase.
“Any grants or anything else, even growth over time — growth in the assessment base, so if there’s new businesses or new residential areas, anything that’s added to the assessment base — brings down the cost to everybody,” explained Jim Crockett, manager of recreation for CDCC.
He said that it’s reasonable to expect that the RDCK would receive grants for the project, if the referendum passes, but couldn’t say how big they might be.