After a seven-year detour to fix more immediate problems, an expansion of the Ravensong Aquatic Centre in Qualicum Beach is back on the table.
The Regional District of Nanaimo first proposed to expand the facility in 2006 when it was 11 years old and were well into a plan to do so in 2009 when “major deficiencies were identified with the main structure and systems of the existing facility that required priority attention,” according to a staff report presented at the RDN’s board meeting June 14.
So they put the expansion plans on hold, and with the help of a $1 million federal grant, did a $4.8 million “remediation” of the urgent issues.
The report says that while there were no specific resolutions, “it was understood within the community that no expansion of the facility would be pursued until the… debt payments were completed.”
Since the original building and expansion debt will be paid off this year, the board is back to considering the expansion.
The current staff report, building on the detailed work done in 2009, says expansion is required due to increased use, lack of dry floor space like a multi-purpose room, a fitness area, more deck space and water features, change rooms and support space including storage, mechanical and administration.
The 2009 budget ranged from $6.4 to $7.1 million, depending on chosen options.
Qualicum Beach Mayor Teunis Westbroek questioned the need for all the proposed new features, singling out $994,000 (in 2009) for a “Wellness Centre,” saying “we have a private company directly across the street.”
“The total number of $7 million may not go well with a referendum question,” he said. “If we could reduce it to what I think is necessary I think it may go better.”
RDN chair Bill Veenhoff said he believed that was the intent of the current motion, to let the public know about the proposal and get feedback and more detailed information.
Other big items in the old proposal included $2.8 million for expansion of the pool itself, $518,800 for universal change rooms and $450,500 for a new entry lobby.
The 2009 plan and a lot of information is available in the June 14 agenda available at the RDN office in Nanaimo (6300 Hammond Bay Road) and online at www.rdn.bc.ca.
The board passed a motion directing staff to bring back a new report with updated numbers and a detailed timeline, including public consultation.