Ross Doug w Bev 20220809

2022 08 09 | Host: Bev Rundell | Doug Ross, CoV Dir Recreation Services

Bev Rundell hosted the City of Vernon’s Director of Recreation, Doug Ross, for another update on our Active Living Centre Project. Doug was disappointed we didn’t have a $1 million cheque ready to purchase branding rights! Since we last heard from him, the City has completed a set of community engagement hearings & statistically valid surveys (not driven by special interest groups), indicating citizens want a 50m indoor pool with lanes & a leisure area, hot tub(s), sauna, steam room, double gymnasium, a walk/run track, fitness centre, multi-purpose rooms, etc. Updated facilities are needed, as we have significantly less indoor water per person than other communities, & if we don’t remain competitive, people will move elsewhere. It’s important to build for medium-range future needs – not just current needs. Survey respondents support discounted user pricing for locals & low income residents, as opposed to those outside the areas contributing to the cost of the project. Looking at survey results, trends & operating efficiencies, the current plan calls for the aquatic portion of our existing recreation centre to be re-purposed, with the new facility providing all indoor aquatic facilities under one roof, located near our ice rinks, where heat recoveries can be maximized. A 50m pool with two movable bulkheads can best serve a variety of users concurrently. Users also want “on-deck viewing.” With costs rising substantially over the past couple of years, a conservative estimate for the current design, as of June 2022, was $121m. Along with BC-wide 15Oct2022 municipal elections, borrowing approval for this project will go to referendum. If it passes, design will commence in early 2023, with a potential opening in Fall 2026. Funds may be borrowed over up to five years, as needed. Assuming project completion on time & on budget, the annual property tax increase, attributable to this fully financed project, on a median-value Vernon home, would increase a little under $300. This project must be considered in the context of other improvements to the former Kin Racetrack site, plus the long-sought downtown cultural centre, intended to replace our existing art gallery & museum.