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Gates facility suspension prompts wider rethink

Essentials of what it means to provide recreational services at the heart of the issue for PVUS

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The Gates Recreation Centre in Birken continues to be a sticking point for members of the Pemberton Valley Utilities & Services (PVUS).

Plans to develop the facility were suspended at a Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) meeting in August to allow PVUS to consider its options, and at this week's PVUS meeting the suspense continued.

"It was meant to be just a discussion but it sort of evolved into a bigger discussion that should have been a formal meeting. But at the end of the day, what became quite clear was that the Village of Pemberton was not prepared to support the operating and maintenance costs at that facility," said SLRD Area C directory and chair Susie Gimse at the PVUS meeting at its monthly meeting on Oct. 10.

"With that information, I went to the board and suggested that we suspend any work at this point in time... that's where we're at now and there's not much more to say."

But Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy disagreed.

"Just for clarity, I think the village had said we wanted to resolve the issue around the recreation service budget prior to taking on any additional operational costs. So I won't characterize that we are not prepared to support Gates, but we want the recreational service issue resolved," he said.

Under the current agreement, the Village of Pemberton (VOP) and Area C of SLRD share recreation costs, with money from Area C residents funding recreation in Pemberton and vice-versa. Since funding is based on population, Pemberton could be on the hook for roughly 48 per cent of annual operation costs of the proposed Gates centre, which are estimated at roughly $100,000 per year based on projected user fees.

Directors at the PVUS meeting agreed that the essentials of what it means to provide recreational services was at the heart of the issue.

"Let's look at the issue of the service and how it is funded," Gimse said. "There were a number of things that came into play about why I chose to suspend the Gates rec project at this point in time, and we will have a service review."

She said she was waiting for more information, in order to move forward.

"So we're a little bit delayed in terms of the process and I apologize for that," said Gimse. "That's the update on Gates, suspended for now."

- With files by Andrew Mitchell

Pemberton Community Centre could benefit from federal grant

Two projects within the SLRD region await word later this month as to whether they've been successful in their applications for Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund Grants: Gates Lake Community Centre renovation, with a funding request of $247,671.06 to cover half of the $495,342.12 total eligible cost of the project; and a funding request of $249,000 for a swimming pool upgrade at Brennan Park in Squamish.

A decision is due by the end of October, 90 days following the August 1 deadline.

Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund Grants are a two-year, $150 million federal program that aims to renew existing community infrastructure that is non-commercial and with public access.

PVUS board members were told that these two applications did not prevent them apply for a funding for a third project in the region in the second round of applications. Fifty per cent of the estimated $250,000 cost for Pemberton Community Centre improvements could be applied for. The deadline is Nov. 19, 2012.

"We've got the (Pemberton) Community Centre on as a potential opportunity," said SLRD recreation services manager Peter Duhault, citing numerous repairs needing to be made, including sidewalks and curbs, exterior siding, building a floor in the youth centre, a rubber floor for dance in Room C, and refinishing the exterior.

If the two previous projects are approved for funding it is unlikely that a third project would receive funding, it was noted.

A decision was deferred while more information was gathered regarding the SLRD Area C's ability to contribute to funding part of the other 50 per cent required for the repairs, but Gimse said she aimed to have it resolved by Oct. 22.

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