The North Cariboo Joint Planning Committee (NCJPC) has agreed to continue work on the design of a gymnastics facility which would be attached to the Quesnel Recreation Centre. The NCJPC also agreed to continue work on plans to upgrade the aging aquatic centre and has committed to meet again in the fall to discuss how the two projects will be funded and whether or not they should be linked together and go to referendum.
The decision were made after the NCJPC received a report from city staff on the two projects during a committee meeting on May 19.
The report provided two schematic designs for the gymnastics facility. The first option would see the facility connected to the existing recreation centre through a corridor and leave a narrow outdoor space in between the two buildings. That plan would come at an estimated cost of $3.1 million.
The second design option, which the NCJPC have agreed to pursue, would see the two buildings connected together to create one facility, and has an estimated cost of $3.4 million.
The report recommended the second option which, while more expensive, would eliminate the awkward narrow outdoor space in between the buildings which “can be difficult to maintain, is prone to becoming unsightly, and may attract antisocial or illegal behaviour.”
With regards to the updates to the Quesnel Aquatic Centre, the report provides an updated cost estimate for the project, $21.3 million including a water slide or $18.5 million without a water slide.
The report states in March the CRD was unsuccessful in receiving a $9 million grant for the aquatic centre renovation and suggests the NCJPC consider what the next steps in advancing the project may be.
The NCJPC decided further discussion was needed regarding how the project should be funded and whether or not it should go to referendum and possibly be linked to the gymnastics facility.
Cariboo Regional District Area A Director Mary Sjostrom expressed her desire to see both projects completed but requested that the committee meet again, having learned more from the community about what it wants to see from the projects and what the tax implication may be before moving forward and seeing anything go to referendum.
“I’m hearing lots of conversation and lots of concerns out there from people,” said Sjostrom. “I am concerned with the rising costs of sub regional recreation — I am really concerned with bailing into more debt at this current time and that doesn’t mean that I don’t support gymnastics and that I don’t support an upgrade to the pool I would just like us to truly understand what this means to the taxpayer and what it’s going to mean to us moving forward.”
Members of the committee were in a general consensus that the two projects should be treated separately should one or both be taken to a referendum. Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson would like to see the plans for both projects further developed and costed with the gymnastics facility project ready to commence immediately upon funding being available and the aquatic centre upgrades being made ready for further grant submission or to go to a referendum.
“I think that gymnastics [facility] really needs to be regarded as a shovel ready project,” said Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson. “Once we’ve got it in a way that we can all agree makes sense to add it to the recreation centre then we can start talking about ‘okay how do you finance it?’ A combination of gas tax, look for infrastructure grants, whatever the case may be that doesn’t add to the tax payer. I think that we need to be prepared to refresh the recreation centre project for either another submission or to go to referendum. At some point we’ve got to put a project in front of the general population and let them make a decision.”