Grand Forks’ long-proposed community centre project will likely go to a referendum at next fall’s municipal elections, according to a unanimous city council resolution Monday, Dec. 13.
The resolution directs city hall to prepare a referendum question based on input from the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary’s (RDKB’s) Area D. A majority ‘yes’ vote in October 2022 would see the project move forward, allowing either or both city council and Area D to authorize a loan to pay for the centre’s construction, according to a report by Chief Administrative Officer Duncan Redfearn.
The latest construction estimate, prepared by Community Futures Boundary (CFB) in September 2020, puts the total bill at around $10 million. The report puts the city’s share at a projected 51 per cent, on the operating assumption that these would be roughly split with the regional district.
Area D Director Danna O’Donnell on Thursday said the regional district hasn’t seen any cost-sharing proposals, but is in principle committed to shouldering part of the burden.
“We would like to contribute. Area D residents would be using the community centre, so we’d like to be a part of the project,” she told The Gazette.
Redfearn’s report projects a nearly 15 per cent increase in annual property taxes if the community centre went ahead along with the city’s share of flood work costs and two other construction projects, based on the average estimated value of city homes.
The city’s flood works are mostly covered by approximately $51.5 million in provincial and federal monies provided by the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF), but the city is slated to contribute roughly $5 million to the pot, according to the DMAF Charter.
Apart from that, council will be asked to consider adding $2 million towards next spring’s water systems improvement project. That project is designed to expand and “rehabilitate” a city reservoir, to be funded by a roughly $3.6 million grant. But Redfearn’s report suggests the extra money will be needed to build a new reservoir as well as a host of water distribution and water quality upgrades, which were not factored into the original grant application.
Another grant will cover around two-thirds of the city’s upcoming stormwater systems upgrade, set to deliver 30 catch basins and 15 concrete manholes across much of the downtown core. The city will cover the remaining costs to the tune of an estimated $1.2 million, according to that funding agreement.
To this, council will be asked to kick in around $2 million to replace a host of ageing pipeworks that will be exposed by the stormwater system upgrade. Describing this as “a moment of opportunity” for the city, the CAO’s report emphasizes that the current grant funding will pay for excavation and repaving costs.
The city would have to pay for these in the event it were to replace the pipeworks at some future date, the report states.
The community centre project envisions a one-storey, 13,150 square foot space to be built around 19th Street’s Jack Goddard Memorial Arena, curling rink and aquatic centre, all of which the report says could be up for renovation or replacement “within the foreseeable future.”
None of those costs were factored into the community centre project report by CFB or the construction projects outlined in Redfearn’s report.