City council and Grand Forks Rural Area D will decide later this month whether or not to move forward with plans to build a new community centre.
Council voted last January to defer consideration of the project until November 2021. Having weighed the city’s vital infrastructure projects against the need for a new gathering space, Chief Administrative Officer Duncan Redfearn recommend against the initiative in a report to council Monday, Nov. 22.
“This was probably the most difficult one I’ve had to write since I came on,” he told council.
The city would have to borrow money to fund the community centre project even if costs were offset by grant funding, he noted. Bridging funding gaps ahead of the city’s flood works and upgrades to its water and storm sewer systems will require municipal and regional district tax hikes in 2022. Funding those projects and a community centre would see next year’s taxes on an average city home go up by at least $364, according to his report.
Redfearn recommended that council come to a decision after the committee of the whole meeting Monday, Dec. 13. Mayor Brian Taylor said the deferral “gives us another block of time to look at the details and the implications of it.”
Coun. Chris Moslin pointed out that the community centre isn’t likely to be any more attractive in the meantime.
“I guess the sad thing is that this report is very well done and very thorough. The numbers aren’t going to change between now and Dec. 13,” he said.
Council then unanimously voted to revisit the issue on Dec. 13.
The community centre project, estimated last year to cost around $9.7 million, was strongly supported by Community Futures Boundary’s Grand Forks office and former Area D Director Roly Russell. A current design for the centre provides for around 13,000 square-feet of floor space, including a commercial kitchen, to be built around the Jack Goddard Memorial Arena near the intersection of Highway 3 and 19th Street.