The City of Quesnel is going to look at co-locating a proposed new gymnastics facility in the Arts and Recreation Centre on North Star Road.
At the Nov. 26 council meeting, councillors approved up to the total $84,892.42 in the Gymnastics Capital Reserve on moving as far forward as they can go with that funding if it turns out to be feasible and appropriate.
The City had established that reserve fund in 2008 in response to commitments that had been made by the North Cariboo Joint Planning Committee and council at that time to assist the Quesnel Technics Gymnastics Club in obtaining a new facility.
In 2015, the gymnastics club commissioned a business plan that estimated the cost to construct a new gymnastics centre was approximately $1.24 million, according to the report to council from Jeff Norburn, the City’s director of community services.
In 2016, the North Cariboo Joint Planning Committee committed in principle that if a new gymnastics facility were built, it would become part of the North Cariboo Recreation and Parks Service. Since then, the City allocated funds from the Gymnastics Capital Reserve to complete design work, and a cost estimate for a project that integrated the new gymnastics facility into the soccer complex and combined it with a climbing wall, indoor playground, multipurpose space and additional storage space and improved changerooms for the soccer facility.
The gymnastics club is currently using Baker School for its programs, but Norburn told council the facility “is inadequate for their needs, and there is a risk that they could be displaced if their annual licence of occupation with the school district is not renewed for any reason.”
On behalf of the City of Quesnel and the Cariboo Regional District, the City had applied for a $6 million grant for the project to integrate the new gymnastics facility into the soccer facility in 2017, but it was not successful. After that, Norburn says there was some talk of possibly co-locating the new gymnastics facility at the Arts and Recreation Centre.
“An initial review of this option by staff suggests that there appears to be adequate space at the back of the building to construct a pre-engineered building with a project scope that aligns with the 2015 business plan,” Norburn wrote in his report to council. “There are also potential benefits to combining the gymnastics facility with the other recreation services at the Arts and Recreation Centre and potential savings to be realized if existing changerooms and washroom facilities can be used to reduce building requirements for the facility addition.”
The next step is to hire professionals to determine whether or not this option is viable and by developing a schematic design, conducting a code review and coming up with a cost estimate. This design work is estimated to cost $10,000 to $25,000.
Council was prepared to move ahead with this step but decided to facilitate moving forward faster after City manager Byron Johnson suggested they authorize staff to spend up to the entire Gymnastics Capital Reserve Fund.
“That $84,000 has already been set aside by council specifically for this project,” he told council. “I think while for $10,000 to $25,000, we could come up with a conceptual drawings … I think we need to be prepared to move faster on this file. We have the money set aside, it would be used for the intent it was set aside for in this reserve to develop this facility, and I think council should actually move forward with spending up to that full balance in that fund to drive this project closer to actual construction. Director Norburn did mention there is some risk for this organization that perhaps they could find themselves uprooted, so I think we should just take this as far as we can with the funds we have in place.”
Coun. Mitch Vik agreed with Johnson and noted that there needs to be an element of risk management.
The first-pass assessment would look at whether it is technically feasible to co-locate the project at the Arts and Recreation Centre, and if it isn’t feasible, they will only spend the amount of the assessment, explained Mayor Bob Simpson.