Summerland, B.C. council debates two costly projects

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Summerland council debates two costly projects
Summerland Council debated two costly projects during Monday's meeting. Taya Fast is learning the district is still figuring out how to move forward with a new aquatic centre and affordable housing project. – Dec 14, 2022

Tax payers could be on the hook for two massive projects in Summerland, B.C.

The cost of a new aquatic centre has skyrocketed to $49 million, a huge spike from the last estimate provided to council a year ago.

“That was kind of a hard pill to swallow, for a lot of us. We didn’t make any decisions, [we received] these reports and asked lots of questions,” said the mayor of Summerland Doug Holmes.

According to the mayor of Summerland, the increase is largely due to inflation and would come at a cost to local residents.

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“For an average house in Summerland, it would be about $550 a year. In today’s economic climate, that’s a lot of money,” said Holmes.

“The question was asked, how can we reduce the cost of the whole project? And the only way really, is to make it smaller, to reduce the size of the pool. And that’s a conversation we might have to have in January.”

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Adding that there are a lot of unanswered questions before the project can be brought to a referendum.

“There still we want to make sure before we go to referendum that all the questions anybody can possibly have about the building can be answered,” said Holmes.

“One of the big question marks is potential grant funding. We currently have an application for an infrastructure grant for $6 million. But when you’re talking about $49 million, 6 million, doesn’t get you much further.”

A new aquatic centre has been in the works for several years, as the current centre is in desperate need of upgrades.

“That pool is in such bad shape, it’s year to year that we’re able to keep it open,” he said.

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“Two years ago when we looked at that the cost of just renovating that before and it would have cost just as much to renovate as it would to build a new pool.”

Click to play video: 'Construction begins on new enhancement for Summerland, B.C. playground'
Construction begins on new enhancement for Summerland, B.C. playground

Meanwhile, council has thrown its support behind another project with a price tag of up to $1.5 million.

During Monday’s meeting, council looked at four requests from Parkdale Place Housing Society for its proposed 81-unit affordable housing project aimed at seniors.

“The requests were waiving development cost charges, to pay for the off site improvements – development permit fees that we would normally charge and to waive the tipping fees,” said Holmes.

Council voted 6-1 in favour of the four requests, councillor Richard Barkwill was the lone opposition to the million dollar contribution.

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The project is proposed for 13609 Dickson Avenue, which is currently home to the 20-unit Legion Village seniors’ housing facility, and would tentatively include a health clinic on the bottom level.

“Not only is a housing but it includes healthcare components on the ground floor, which all our doctors are working toward. So, there’s that component as well which is would be a huge benefit to the community,” Holmes added. “It’s an amazing project and it’s important that council backs it.”

Parkdale housing still has to approach BC Housing for funding before the project can officially get off the ground.

Click to play video: 'Summerland seniors development rejected by council'
Summerland seniors development rejected by council

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