An artist’s rendition of Grand Forks’ proposed community centre (Community Futures Boundary report)

To build or not to build: Grand Forks community centre to go to city, district referendum

Plans to build a community centre have been in the works since 2018

Plans to build a community centre in Grand Forks have reached the point where city and rural area residents must decide whether or not to fund it, according to closely involved officials.

“The need for a community centre has been brewing in this town since Grand Forks lost the Fall Fair grounds on the [Kettle] river probably fifty years ago,” said Boundary Community Futures manger Jennifer Wetmore, who wrote the community centre proposal for City Hall.

READ MORE: Community Futures moves on Grand Forks community centre plan

“People in the Boundary have been asking for a community centre for years and years,” said rural Grand Forks representative, Roly Russell Thursday, Sept. 24.

READ MORE: Russell to run as BC NDP candidate for Boundary-Similkameen

Russell stressed the economic benefits he said would come back to Grand Forks and the surrounding area if a community centre were to go ahead.

“We can’t have conventions or conferences to represent small businesses in the area,” he said.

“Some of the largest halls that we have now can’t hold much more than 50 or a 100 people, and that was true even before COVID.”

Roly Russell represented rural Grand Forks on the RDKB board before accepting the BC NDP’s nomination to run for the riding of Boundary-Similkameen in October’s provincial election. (Laurie Tritschler - Grand Forks Gazette)

The estimated $10.5 million construction project will be put to city and district voters in a Spring 2021 referendum.

“Cities and districts don’t build community centres. Communities do,” said Wetmore.

Voters will be asked to foot the entire bill even though the province and the federal government are likely to sponsor infrastructure grants in the midterm future, said Russell.

“It has to be an eyes-wide-open decision by community taxpayers.”

Russell said he was optimistic the referendum would pass, despite the legacy of failed attempts to build a centre.

“We’ve never come this far,” he said.

The City of Grand Forks and outlying rural Area D would be contributing partners, with the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary directing taxpayer funds, according to Russell.

The proposed community centre would be built around the city’s Jack Goddard Memorial Arena and City and District Swimming pool, according to plans reviewed by Grand Forks City council.

The proposed referendum will go ahead after the parties finalize funding arrangements, he continued.

Russell made his comments to The Gazette before the B.C. NDP announced he’d won the party’s nomination for the provincial riding of Boundary-Similkameen.


@ltritsch1
laurie.tritschler@grandforksgazette.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CommunityGrand ForksKootenay Boundary Regional District

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

City staff will report residents’ feedback to council before the shelter’s permit is decided at a special meeting Tues., Nov. 3. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks’ city council seeking feedback on proposed winter shelter

Boundary Family Services hopes to have the proposed facility running starting Dec. 1

Brandon Kootnekoff stands at the “Zombie Bay” he lit up at his home near Sion Cemetery Wed., Oct. 21. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks haunt enthusiast re-vamps Halloween display for pandemic

Brandon Kootnekoff said he wanted neighbours ‘to have something to look forward to this year’

test tube with the blood test is on the table next to the documents. Positive test for coronavirus covid-19. The concept of fighting a dangerous Chinese disease.
Interior Health records third COVID-19 death

A new community outbreak was reported at Okanagan Men’s Centre in Lake Country

NAV CANDA is considering closing its station at the West Kootenay Regional Airport. Photo: Betsy Kline
Nav Canada considering closing station at West Kootenay Regional Airport

The organization is conducting a service review at Castlegar’s airport

Grand Forks' Everett Baker filed his nomination at city hall Tuesday, Oct. 27. Facebook: Everett Baker
Baker files nomination ahead of Grand Forks byelection

The downtown business owner stands unopposed in bid to fill vacant council seat

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Never before seen painting by famed B.C. artist Emily Carr gifted to Victoria gallery

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

The B.C. Centre for Disease control is telling people to keep an eye out for the poisonous death cap mushroom, which thrives in fall weather conditions. (Paul Kroeger/BCCDC)
Highly poisonous death cap mushroom discovered in Comox

This marks first discovery on Vancouver Island outside Greater Victoria area

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
Rescued bald eagle that came to life in B.C. man’s car had lead poisoning

Bird is on medication and recovering in rehab centre

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C., was presented with the first poppy of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2020 Poppy Campaign on Wednesday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
PHOTOS: B.C. Lieutenant Governor receives first poppy to kick off 2020 campaign

Janet Austin ‘honour and a privileged’ to receive the poppy

Premier-elect John Horgan and cabinet ministers are sworn in for the first time at Government House in Victoria, July 18, 2017. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Pandemic payments have to wait for B.C. vote count, swearing-in

Small businesses advised to apply even if they don’t qualify

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

Most Read