By Cindy Filipenko
An anticipated surplus in Pemberton’s new community centre budget has evaporated, leaving the fate of an Olympic/Paralympic Live Site grant in question.
The $330,000 grant, applied for by the Village of Pemberton, requires that the applying body secure matching funds. The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) had committed to providing those funds if the joint community centre realized a budget surplus. However, changes to the facility’s plans and unexpected construction issues have absorbed that projected surplus.
“I hate to give up 50-cent dollars,” said Lori Pilon, the VOP’s administrator.
Pilon suggested that the VOP would be examining a variety of options to fundraise the additional $330,000 required, through additional grants, corporate contributions and more grassroots community fundraising. She said that council was currently examining a variety of options.
SLRD administrator Paul Edgington pointed out that a number of construction changes were responsible for the loss of the budget surplus. Among those changes was addition preload, the installation of a geothermal heating and cooling system for the building, relocation of waterlines and upgrades to existing services.
Some of the changes to the plan are structurally necessary. For example, more preload is needed to equalize the elevation of the site to include the current library. The building will be moved off its foundation, the elevation corrected, new servicing put in place and then replaced. Failure to do this would see the building, destined to become the new youth centre, essentially occupying a well on a flood plane. Yet, other changes to the plan that impact the budget are more cosmetic in nature.
“There’s a desire to see more of the landscaping plan completed within the first six months, instead of over a period of two years,” said Edgington.
The SLRD administrator confirmed that while the project has absorbed the expected surplus, the 15 per cent contingency fund remains intact. He also said that the current budget situation does not change the SLRD’s fundamental commitment to assisting the VOP obtain the Live Site grant.
“At a point when we can help, we will,” he said. “We’re confident we’ll resolve this funding issue.”
When budget concerns were raised at the SLRD board of directors meeting on Feb. 26, VOP Mayor Jordan Sturdy asked Area C Director Susie Gimse to explore using the run of river Independent Power Project (IPP) funds to cover the community centre shortfalls.
Gimse said using the IPP funds was unlikely, as the $600,000 reserve has been allocated to assist with the purchase of the existing community centre’s property from the school district. She also noted that the issue had been discussed at the recent Joint Operations meeting where various fundraising options had been put on the table.
“I was looking for a letter of support from the regional district board,” explained Sturdy.
Gimse replied that she felt writing a letter was unnecessary, as the province was already aware that the SLRD supported the VOP’s application and would assist in helping the VOP meet the requirements of the grant.
The Live Site grant, if obtained, is earmarked to develop Lot 15 with additional community amenities, such as a skateboard park and a biking park.