Staff want to get going on putting together a massive to-do list for revamping recreation in Maple Ridge, but they’ll have to wait a week, at least.
A recommendation at Monday’s workshop that staff write up a draft work plan was delayed for a week, as council got bogged down on other topics. But even when the discussion of new swimming pools, ice rinks or sports fields gets back to council, it’s not a “slam dunk” that it will OK every project.
“There’s definitely going to be some discussion about it,” said Coun. Bob Masse.
Staff have created bundles of recreation projects that could proceed together in order save time and money in construction and operation.
For instance, a new wellness facility and aquatic centre would include a fitness centre, a six-lane curling rink and suspended running track – costing up to $70 million. A new museum could be paired with a small theatre – costing $11 million.
Masse, though, says council has to review all of those bundles before giving staff the go-ahead to create a work schedule and finance plan.
Deciding on the wellness facility-aquatic centre is a big decision, Masse added.
“I think that’s a pretty significant decision that we have to make there.
“If we bundle it all together, then we’re talking about a very significant asset,” with significant expenditure and property acquisition, he said.
Council hasn’t had a full discussion on that, yet.
“We haven’t had that discussion and said, ‘OK, we understand that this what that package represents,’” and here’s the total cost and tax implications.’”
That could take place at the meeting next week and council could then tell staff to make up a project list and work schedule.
Time is pressing, though, says a staff report.
“It is important to make a timely decision on whether or not council wants to proceed with a new aquatic facility,” says a March 7 report, because that will determine when repairs to the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre take place.
The $6-million plumbing and repair project has been put on hold until a decision has been made on a new aquatic centre.
With some unspecified projects costing between $6 million and $12 million, total cost for the new facilities could add up to between $111 million and $138 million.
Those numbers include a wellness facility-aquatic centre ($70 million), as well as: two new artificial sports fields and a 5,000 seat stadium at the Albion sports fields, costing $20 million; a museum or cultural facility, costing $11 million; two new ice sheets at Planet Ice (converting the old curling rink), costing between $15 and $25 million; and other projects not defined that could cost up to $25 million.
Once council confirms the schedule and priority list, staff will work on how to get the public involved.
A process for obtaining the public’s assent to borrow the money also will be determined. That could be in the form of a simple plebiscite, in which taxpayers vote yes or no to any required borrowing and subsequent tax increase.
The public’s OK could also be obtained through an alternative approval process, by which 10 per cent of eligible voters have to say no to the proposed borrowing and spending in order to defeat it or force a plebiscite.
Some recreation projects, such as repairing the Leisure Centre, building a youth action park or a water play park in Memorial Peace Park, are already in the work plans with most of the funding already allocated.
The report says that once priorities have been set, staff will come back with a schedule for building the projects.
The recommendation in the March 7 report says the aquatic centre is the highest priority.