Conceptual design for Ravensong Aquatic Centre Expansion Project. (Submitted photo)

Conceptual design for Ravensong Aquatic Centre Expansion Project. (Submitted photo)

Oceanside Services committee chooses financing option for Qualicum Beach pool project

Plan is to get Phase One constructed

After a lengthy debate, the Oceanside Services Committee has decided on how Phase One of the major Ravensong Aquatic Centre expansion project should be financed.

Kate Busby of FaulknerBrowns Architects presented financial options to the committee on June 27 that include short- and longterm borrowing approach and utilization of reserve funds.

The project, which would cost more than $25 million, was divided into two phases. The OSC more than a year ago agreed to advance Phase One that entails creation of new changerooms, lobby, reception, public washrooms, staff support spaces, classroom and multi-purpose room. It would cost $9,075,164.

The second phase which include the creation of a new four-lane, 25-metre pool with ramp entry, new steam and sauna room would be contingent on Parksville’s plan to build an aquatic centre and multiplex. If Parksville proceeds with its project, then phase two will no longer be necessary.

Busby provided the committee two funding options for phase one. Option 1A calls for financing over a five-year period through short-term borrowing, which the Regional District of Nanaimo board can directly approve without having to go through electoral approval. The annual repayment via taxpayers would be $805,294.

Option 1B recommends phase one to be financed over a 20-year period loan. However, this would require electoral approval but spreads the debt over 20 years. The repayment each year would be $300,840.

READ MORE: Regional District of Nanaimo board votes on $20M option for Ravensong pool expansion

Staff did consider suggesting to the committee the entire project be completed all at once and be financed through a 20-year loan. Staff indicated it is the quickest and most cost-effective path as it will save an estimated $2,354,441 in additional cost to complete the project in two phases and an estimated increase in project costs of 10 per cent per year due to price escalation. The plan is to borrow $25,486,100 with repayment valued at $1,681,773 annually once the project gets underway.

Staff wasn’t able to make its recommendation due to the OSC’s decision to amend Bylaw 899 that will include Electoral Area E (Nanoose Bay) to start paying for the aquatic services based on an apportionment model of one-third assessment, population and usage. A referendum is also being planned on the issue to be held during the coming election on Oct. 15. Staff recommended the OSC to make its decision on the project only after all these issues have been addressed.

Parksville director Ed Mayne said the committee had already agreed on getting phase one completed long before the issue on Area E’s participation in the pool was discussed. He didn’t want to delay the project any further.

“We were all prepared to do that at that time without Area E,” said Mayne. “So I am not really sure why we’re going to say ‘let’s hang on to see what happens with Area E and the referendum’. Let’s just start moving this forward.”

Electoral Area G (Englishman River, San Pareil, French Creek, Little Qualicum, Dashwood) director Lehann Wallace also made a motion to defer staff recommendation until more information is received on the City of Parksville’s project, which was scheduled to be presented in the July 18 Parksville council meeting.

Mayne explained the city is simply going to receive a staff report about a potential location for the proposed Parksville pool and no definitive decisions will be made on that day.

“If you’re thinking about deferring this right until after the meeting you’re not going to be that much further ahead than you are ahead right now,” said Mayne, who called the delay “frivolous.”

Wallace’s motion was defeated but she made another recommendation that the RDN proceed with option 1B and electoral approval be sought in a referendum to be held concurrently with the referendum for the amendment to Bylaw 899. It passed 4-3 with OSC chair Brian Wiese, Mayne, Wallace and Area H (Bowser, Horne Lake, Deep Bay, Qualicum Bay) director Stuart McLean voting in favour. Area E director Bob Rogers, Area F director Leanne Salter and Parksville director Adam Fras were opposed.

The committee also passed unanimously a staff recommendation that should funds be awarded to the Ravensong expansion project from the Canadian Community Building Fund Strategic Priorities Fun program stream, the timelines including phasing options be re-evaluated, and revised to capitalized on awarded funds.

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