The concept design work of the Ravensong Aquatic Centre upgrade was presented to the Regional District of Nanaimo’s Oceanside Services Committee.
Two preferred options that outline what the cost would be to the community were laid out on June 25 by the consultant FaulknerBrowns Architect to the committee and they included their recommendation.
The cost for the first option was listed at $17,479,500 and features only an increase in changeroom areas and an additional four-lane, 25-metre tank. The second option has a price tag of $20,900,005 and it will include the same new amenities as in Option 1 plus a multi-purpose dry floor space and a “right- sized” leisure pool option.
The plan is to present both options to the public for comments and feedback in 2021 or when Stage 4 of the RDN and provincial COVID-19 restart plans have been reached.
Parksville Mayor and RDN director Ed Mayne said he has concerns with the proposal to bring both options out to the public, saying they will be not be getting complete information.
“We all know that Parksville is looking at a swimming pool for itself,” said Mayne. “And with the implementation of that swimming pool, it would change dramatically all the information that’s being provided. For example, it would probably reduce the usage by 30 to 40 per cent in Ravensong if Parksville is opened. If that’s the case, we’re way below capacity at Ravensong. Do you really want to spend 20-odd million dollars on doing it?”
Mayne also pointed out this project would result in an increase in taxes for residents.
Parksville is currently in the design stage of its proposed swimming pool and Mayne said they’re getting ready to figure out the cost soon.
“When we do that we are going to be able to compare apples and apples instead of apples and oranges for the public to be able to make their decision,” said Mayne. “I don’t see the benefit of asking people to make it now.”
To cover the cost of the Ravensong pool expansion, the RDN staff plans to apply for grants, to take a loan and to tap into the reserves. For the first option, it entails grant funding of $7.5 million, borrowing $7.5 million and transfer from reserves $3.5 million. For option 2, grant funding of $8.89 million will be sought, borrowing $8.89 million and transfer from reserves $3.5 million. A referendum will be required if the RDN opts to borrow some of the funds.
Electoral Area F (Coombs, Hilliers, Errington, Whiskey Creek, Meadowood) director Leanne Salter raised concerns that cost of the expansion project would mean an increase of more than $50 in taxes for one household.
Parksville director Adam Fras made a motion to defer the consultant’s recommendation until Parksville has information on the cost of its pool project, no later than Oct. 15.
The committee voted in favour of the motion.