Lehann Wallace wants the Regional District of Nanaimo to look at the possibility of transferring the ownership of the District 69 Arena to the City of Parksville.
The director for Electoral Area G (French Creek, San Pareil, Little Qualicum, Englishman River) made a notice of motion at the RDN’s committee of the whole meeting on March 10, that staff be directed to enter into discussions with the City of Parksville and the Parksville Curling Club.
Wallace said she would like to see a collaboration here between the groups for the best solution for the provision of curling in Parksville.
“I think this provides the best opportunity for it to happen,” said Wallace.
The arena is currently leased to the Parksville Curling Club for five years. The RDN rents it out for $1 annually but the club is responsible for the all maintenance and operation costs of the arena.
The City of Parksville, which owns the land, and the RDN do not subsidize the curling club at all.
The RDN, however, has plans to demolish the building.
The RDN board agreed in its five-year financial plan to put money aside each year for the future demolition of the arena.
The contribution for the removal and remedial of the arena was reduced from $200,000 to $100,000 in 2019 but that was halted recently as not all the jurisdictions within the RDN are keen on paying for the future demolition cost. Parksville had asked budgeting and taxation for the arena be delayed until the city and the curling club had the opportunity to give their input.
The curling club had requested the RDN board last February not to proceed with the plan to demolish the arena as no building replacement has been planned or discussed. The president of the club, Penny Shantz suggested that the funds allocated for demolition be used towards building a new one in the future.
The club also requested that they be granted a longer tenure to allow them access to provincial and federal grants to help alleviate some of the maintenance and operations cost of the arena. The five-year lease, Shantz indicated, does not qualify them to apply for grants.
Parksville mayor and director Ed Mayne supported Wallace’s motion.
“This provides us a great solution to eliminate the back and forth going on about if we should reserve $200,000 (for demolition of the arena) a year,” said Mayne.
“It takes the region off the hook. Let’s just leave it where it should be. It’s Parksville’s land, it’s Parksville’s curling club.”
Mayne said the arena virtually has no value to the RDN but it has been an important facility for the Parksville Curling Club.
“The region doesn’t pay for any repairs, for maintenance or anything else,” said Mayne. “It’s done its service and it’s been around for a long time. Let’s just transfer it over. When it comes time to get rid of it, Parksville will then have to take the responsibility of demolishing it if that were the case. So it’s just a very logical answer for a problem that’s been going on for years. Let’s get it done.”
Electoral Area F director Bob Rogers supported the motion but was disappointed the matter was not discussed at the Oceanside Services Committee. He said the curling club is a regional facility as all the members are not exclusively from Parksville.
There are some members, he cited, that are from other electoral areas and municipalities.
“It is a regional activity,” said Rogers. “Curling isn’t just a sort of a city thing and so on and that. With respect to the ongoing maintenance of the building, the ongoing use of the building and so on as a curling club, it probably does rightfully sit with the city of Parksville and so on. But I think that we should have had that discussion as Oceanside Services where this has been included in the past within the recreation assessment of the master plan for the Oceanside area. And also with respect to the dollars that would go into this would be sitting in no particular line item within the capital of the curling club. This would be sitting in the Oceanside Place financial plan.”
Town of Qualicum Beach director Brian Wiese said if this was to proceed there should be a covenant made that the arena remain as a curling rink until such a time when a new building is built.
RDN CAO Phylis Carlisle indicated the motion is asking RDN staff to look into the transfer of the arena’s ownership but it will become complicated if includes the issue of curlers from outside Parksville wanting to continue to use the rink.
Mayne disagreed with Carlisle.
“It is as easy as it appears,” said Mayne.
“We are making it way more complicated than it has to be. It’s got nothing to do with the Parskville Curling Club. They are a private club. They don’t have any obligation to area G, F, Y or Z as part of the membership of their club. They are a private club. They rent the arena for a private club. That’s it. It’s over with.”
Mayne said the curling club should not even be part of this discussion because they can’t be involve for anything more than five years, according to the agreement on the land title.
“They are not going to be part owners on this,” said Mayne. “They’re not going to have anything more than what they’ve got right now which is a five year lease. The only way we can do that is if we have a referendum which is going to cost us $20,000 that they can have a 10-year lease, which makes no sense at all.”
RDN chairman Ian Thorpe broke the tension when he said “this has been a sweeping discussion. But I am going to draw it to a close and hurry hard to close the question.”
The motion passed unanimously.