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Strathcona Gardens Commission expedites recreation centre improvement study

The Strathcona Gardens Commission will be hiring a contractor to do a feasibility study on improvements at the recreation centre. - File photo
The Strathcona Gardens Commission will be hiring a contractor to do a feasibility study on improvements at the recreation centre.
— image credit: File photo

A roughly $21.8 million renovation of Strathcona Gardens is being expedited.

The Strathcona Gardens Commission is moving forward on an improvement project that may involve a new wellness centre with a therapy pool and/or expanded seating at Rod Brind’Amour Arena.

A contractor is expected to be hired this month to deliver a feasibility study that will include a business case and determine the best way to move forward on the future of the recreation complex.

Victoria Smith, special projects and sustainability manager for the Strathcona Regional District, said the deadline for completion of that study has been bumped up by the Strathcona Gardens Commission.

“In response to the commission’s desire to see this work delivered earlier than the original deadline of December, 2017, the feasibility study completion date has been moved forward,” Smith wrote in a report to the commission. “This will enable additional work to be undertaken in the later-half of the year provided that the necessary budget is made available.”

The Strathcona Gardens Commission budgeted $20,000 in 2016 and $25,000 in 2017 for the feasibility study and $10,450 in 2016 for condition assessments.

Such an assessment was carried out on Strathcona Gardens in August, with particular emphasis on examining the pool basin. The results of that assessment are expected to be presented to the Strathcona Gardens Commission at its Oct. 12 meeting.

It will tie into a Needs Assessment study conducted last year which determined that an aging Strathcona Gardens is unable to meet the needs of the community, now and into the future.

To try and address that issue, consultant GDH Solutions was hired by the Strathcona Regional District to create concept designs. The company put forward two options.

The first proposes to build a wellness centre that would include a fitness and exercise room, along with the therapy pool, and a new welcome centre for reception and information.

The plan also includes the addition of multi-purpose rooms, improved and expanded pool change rooms, increased program options and improved access to both upstairs and downstairs levels at Strathcona Gardens.

The second concept involves a rebuild of Rod Brind’Amour Arena, new and improved change rooms, as well as new seating at the arena.

Both would satisfy at least some of the input gathered through a community survey in which Campbell River and Area D residents expressed a desire for better arena change rooms, improved spectator seating at Rod Brind’Amour Arena, another sheet of ice, and dryland training areas. Survey respondents also identified a need for more lanes and a larger deck at the main pool, a bigger men’s change room, more family change rooms, more amenities at the pool, as well as more pool time.

The multi-year project will require significant funding to undertake.

During budget planning earlier this year, the Strathcona Regional District board approved a funding plan that will see Campbell River taxpayers pay $84.02 per $100,000 residential assessment for the next seven years in order to generate $1.45 million annually for the project. The regional district is also looking for grant opportunities for matching funds.

“We are committed to finding the best way forward to manage existing funds and leverage dollars from other sources while minimizing the tax impact on citizens,” Michele Babchuk, chair of the Strathcona Gardens Commission, said in July. “There is still much work to be done before we will have a clear picture of what lies ahead.”

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