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Pemberton considers three recreation options

Report recommends joining library to any proposed recreation facility

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"Hold the referendum after the election."

"Listen to the people."

"Let’s do something."

These were a few of the comments that appeared on worksheets completed by the approximately 35 people who attended Pemberton’s second Community Recreation Master Plan Update meeting on July 11. Almost 40 per cent of the participants had been at the initial meeting on May 31.

The focus of the meeting was the presentation of the report Professional Environment Recreation Consultants had developed for the Village of Pemberton and the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District. The worksheets asked participants to comment on three options: a complex with an indoor pool; a complex with an arena that is dry three months a year; and a complex focusing on recreation space as in the previous community centre model presented earlier this year. PERC will be adding this information from these worksheets to their final 206-page report and submitting it to the VOP and SLRD Joint Services Committee.

Many participants seemed surprised that all three options featured the addition of 4,000 square feet of library space to the facility. The issue of adding a library to any recreation option had not been discussed at the earlier meeting, nor had it been presented as an option in the telephone survey that was the source of much of the data in the 29-page summary PERC presented.

"When did the library become an add-on?" asked local businessman Cam McIvor.

"Strategically, if you go to referendum with a library, you have a far getter chance to succeed," answered Kevan Tisshaw from PERC. "Because a large part of the community will support a new library."

Tisshaw said that the idea of attaching a new library to whichever facility is chosen emerged only last week, when it became evident that the existing library would need replacement in three to four years time. The PERC report also recommended that the question of a recreational facility go to referendum, a path SLRD administrator Paul Edgington last week confirmed as being likely.

"The meeting was a good meeting in the fact that everyone agreed we need to do something, but I think the library is a facility that we already have that we should plan to replace in the three to four years We should spend money on adding new amenities right now," suggested McIvor.

The PERC report supports the library concept saying that adding a library later would result in a far greater cost. McIvor pointed out that any construction occurring after the initial facility is built will cost more, whether it is a library or something else.

"My choice would be no underground parking, an arena and a full community centre complex without the library at this point," said McIvor.

But whatever the community’s decision regarding a recreation facility, McIvor is emphatic about the need for greater planning.

"We need a bigger picture look at the community’s overall planning needs, including what land is available for playing fields, ball fields and soccer fields as we become a larger community."

The current most likely choice of land for the building of any community recreational facility is a 3.2 acre parcel at the corner of Portage Road and Cottonwood.

The report estimates costs of the three facilities, in 2006 dollars, as follows: the pool option comes in at $10.59 million; the arena option is $8.5 million; and the community centre complex comes in at $5.63 million. Potential annual residential tax increases to cover capital and operating costs, based on a $300,000 home (the current average single family home in Pemberton is valued at $480,000.) would be $380, $258 and $176 respective of each option. These figures would be approximately $70 less per option with a $1.133 million grant returned to the provincial government this spring after the initial proposal for a community centre was defeated.

The PERC report did not investigate any alternate sources of funding recreational facilities, such as public-private partnerships or allocating development cost charges for construction and establishing a maintenance trust fund, but only considered a taxation model.

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