The Corcan-Meadowood Residents Association has been working on getting a community centre built for more than a decade.
But last week, the residents in the Electoral Area F (Errington, Coombs, Hilliers) region were shocked to find out Regional District of Nanaimo staff had recommended the Meadowood Community Centre plan be scrapped as they deemed it not financially feasible to sustain once built, based on the business plan the association submitted.
Chris Burger, president of the CMRA, appeared as a delegation at the RDN’s Electoral Area Services Committee meeting on Nov. 26, to ask the committee not to make a decision before the association was given a chance to respond. They want the project to go forward.
Burger said they only received staff’s recommendation last week and did not have time to fully express their position.
“We are very, very disappointed in the response we got from your staff on this given all the discussions, all of the work, the licensing agreements, the business plans, everything that we put together to do this,” said Burger.
Close to $1 million has been earmarked for the project in the RDN’s 2019-2023 financial plan.
In 2018 the estimated cost to build a prefabricated building was $1.35 million.
That price is expected to go up to $1.55 million in 2020.
The present preliminary budget utilizing the Community Works Funds would need to be increased if the project proceeds.
RDN’s general manager of recreation and park services, Thomas Osborne, said based on the CMRA business plan, the proposed centre would be primarily reliant on the commercial kitchen to subsidize the facility, and community use becomes secondary.
“That can’t take place in a recreation centre,” said Osborne, who added that adjustments would need to be made to the design factor to get the commercial kitchen in.
“So it all comes down the primary question: is the facility required and how it will be used? And based on the business plan, it will be used primarily as a commercial kitchen with some auxiliary programming use per the business plan that was submitted.”
The CMRA business plan shows for the first five years of operations a loss of $19,031, with revenues of $144,800 and expenses of $163,831. Not included in the expense are asset management costs estimated to be $25,000 for these five years.
Burger said the area badly needs a community centre as the region is isolated and 40 minutes to an hour away from the closest recreation centre. He estimated approximately 2,000 people would use the facilty once it’s built.
“We’re very upset,” said Burger.
“We’re not going away. We’re very angry because quite frankly there’s fundamental principle of fairness here and we need to start seeing some returns for our investment.”
The committee did not move staff recommendation but instead passed Electoral Area F director Leanne Salter motion that a task force be formed to address the issues raised by staff.
The task force will include Salter, her alternate Julian Fell and a minimum of four Meadowood community members, and two staff, the manager of recreation services, and the general manager of recreation and parks.
The plan is to have a positive plan completed by April 2020 and to proceed with the project.
Salter would be appointing the four Meadowood representatives in the proposed task force.